One of the three major credit ratings agencies warned Wednesday that a failure to raise the debt ceiling could result in a lower credit rating for the U.S.
Fitch Ratings currently assigns a AAA rating to U.S. debt, the highest level possible. However, a failure to raise the debt ceiling "may not be compatible with 'AAA' status," according to the agency.
If the U.S. cannot sell more debt after bumping up against the debt ceiling, it may not be able to make all of its interest payments on time and in full. The federal government could begin running out of cash as soon as October.
The debt ceiling is currently $19.9 trillion, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has repeatedly urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling by September 29. A failure to do so could roil financial markets around the world, and ultimately increase the cost of servicing U.S. debt.
This is not the first time Congress has faced this problem. During an earlier debt ceiling showdown in 2011, Standard & Poor's reduced its rating on U.S. debt from its highest level to AA+. However, Fitch and Moody’s stuck with their top ratings.
The finance ministers of Europe’s five largest economies — Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain — warned that the Republican tax plan could have “a major distortive impact” on international trade and may violate international treaties. "The inclusion of certain less conventional international tax provisions could contravene the U.S.'s double taxation treaties and may risk having a major distortive impact on international trade," the ministers wrote in a letter to Mnuchin.
Politico reports: “The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs. … The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.”
President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution today to fund the federal government through Friday, December 22.
Bloomberg called the maneuver “a monumental piece of can kicking,” which is no doubt the case, but at least you’ll be able to visit your favorite national park over the weekend.
Here's to small victories!
The Republican tax cuts won’t do much for economic growth, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan told CNBC Wednesday, but they will damage the country’s fiscal situation while creating the threat of stagflation. "This is a terrible fiscal situation we've got ourselves into," Greenspan said. "The administration is doing tax cuts and a spending decrease, but he's doing them in the wrong order. What we need right now is to focus totally on reducing the debt."