I am writing to inform you that the statutory debt limit will be reached on December 31, 2012, and to notify you that the Treasury Department will shortly begin taking certain extraordinary measures authorized by law to temporarily postpone the date that the United States would otherwise default on its legal obligations.Short version: This letter represents an official request for Congress to please get its crap together to do something about this eminently foreseeable debt ceiling business rather than subjecting the country to yet another grinding episode of legislative incompetence. The odds of a non-incompetent approach are low, however; while Obama has been pressing for a debt ceiling solution to be part of the current "fiscal cliff" talks, or non-talks; Republicans would prefer to leave it separate so that they can engage in yet another fiscal crisis and subsequent hostage negotiation in a month or so.
These extraordinary measures, which are explained in detail in an appendix to this letter, can create approximately $200 billion in headroom under the debt limit. Under normal circumstances, that amount of headroom would last approximately two months. However, given the significant uncertainty that now exists with regard to unresolved tax and spending policies for 2013, it is not possible to predict the effective duration of these measures. At this time, the extent to which the upcoming tax filing season will be delayed as a result of these unresolved policy questions is also uncertain. If left unresolved, the expiring tax provisions and automatic spending cuts, as well as the attendant delays in filing of tax returns, would have the effect of adding some additional time to the duration of the extraordinary measures. Treasury will provide more guidance regarding the expected duration of these measures when the policy outlook becomes clearer.
Here we go again. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has informed Congress via letter that as of Dec. 31, the government has once again reached the debt ceiling [PDF]:
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