How Much Is $12.4 Trillion ?

Just before the Senate went home for Christmas, they passed a bill (in addition to healthcare).  According to, that bill will raise the debt ceiling in the United States to $ 12.4 trillion.  That bill raises the debt ceiling by $290 billion.  The vote was very much along party lines, with one Republican voting for the bill and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana voting against the bill. 

The article quotes Senator Bayh as saying:

“I would not support raising the debt ceiling because Congress has not adopted a credible process to restrain spending and eliminate red ink,”

Senator Bayh is running for re-election in 2010.  I have my own personal theory that if things continue in their current direction nationally, Senator Bayh may challenger Barack Obama for the Presidency in a Democrat primary.  I know that it is unusual to challenge a sitting President in a primary election, but depending on what President Obama’s approval ratings are in 2011 and depending on the results of the 2010 midterm elections, I think it is possible.

The article points out:

“Thursday’s debt limit measure and the larger version looming in January require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass. Democrats control the chamber with 60 votes, which could require all 60 members of the Democratic caucus to vote for it, including several members who are politically endangered.

“The current measure is needed as a result of the out-of-control budget deficit, which registered $1.4 trillion for the budget year that ended in September. The current debt ceiling is $12.1 trillion and is set to be reached by Dec. 31.”

China has voiced concern over the amount of debt the US is incurring.  American is going to run out of money at some point.  The reason for the large increase in the debt ceiling is to try to avoid having to raise it too many times before the 2010 elections.  It is also interesting that even though the majority of the ‘benefits’ in the healthcare bill don’t actually begin until 2014, if the bill is passed and signed, the tax increases will begin immediately.