Tuesday Morning Political Mix
Good morning from Washington, D.C., your nation's capital, where we are now into Day 15 of your government's shutdown and counting down to your government's looming default on its debt.
Yes, we all wish we were still in bed with the pillow over our head. (Even, we imagine, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who told The Wall Street Journal that military readiness is being damaged by the budget standoff.)
Dire? There is little argument, except from the most ardent default-is-no-big-deal fringe.
Chinese leaders, grasping the opportunity handed them, in a weekend commentary in their state-run news agency advised a "befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world."
Even the much publicized White House garden has taken a hit from Washington inaction, its veggies literally rotting on the vine. Insert metaphor here.
But, dear readers, the buzz-phrase for Tuesday: "Congressional leaders near agreement on framework for a bipartisan deal."
Here's how The New York Times characterized the situation:
WASHINGTON — While Republican senators prepared to meet on Tuesday morning to hear from their leadership about a potential deal with Democrats that could reopen the government and lift the threat of an American default by raising the debt ceiling, House Republicans tempered their demands to scale back President Obama's health care law, announcing that they would soon vote on a proposal meant to counteract a less conservative plan coming from the Senate.
The current statutory limit on total debt issued by the Treasury is just under $16.7 trillion. The No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-3) suspended the debt ceiling from February 4, 2013, through May 18, 2013. The act also specified that the amount of borrowing that occurred during that period should be added to the previous debt limit of $16.394 trillion. On May 19, the limit was reset to reflect the cumulative borrowing through May 18 and now stands at $16.699 trillion.
Because the No Budget, No Pay Act provided no additional borrowing authority above the amount of debt that had already been issued as of May 18, the Treasury has no room under the newly established limit to increase total borrowing. Therefore, to avoid a breach of that limit, the Treasury has begun employing its well-established toolbox of so-called extraordinary measures to allow continued borrowing for a limited time. As it reported in May, CBO projects that those measures will be exhausted in either October or November of this year.
As Congress continues to work on its "framework for a bipartisan deal," here are a few other stories we're watching:
The information is from senior intelligence officials and from top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. A key finding: Each day, the Washington Post reports, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the inbox displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.
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