“If this were the last debt ceiling increase you could ask for, the final one, and you had to make it large enough for all current and future obligations, what would the request need to be?” Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at a Capitol Hill hearing on Wednesday.
“I don’t know how to answer that question,” Geithner said to Gowdy. . . .
“It would be a lot,” Geithner finally said. “It would make you uncomfortable,” he added.
Geithner tried to deflect the debt ceiling question by focusing on the spending question itself and nailed Congress simultaneously by pointing out,
It makes no sense for the country, since Congress controls how much we can borrow every year—we have no independent authority to spend beyond what Congress authorizes—for Congress to put itself and its members through the position every six months or every year to hold a separate vote—politically difficult vote—on whether they should authorize us to do things they’ve already authorized us to do.
Gowdy noted that Geithner had previously used the word “unsustainable” to describe the debt problem. But Geithner put the ball squarely back in Congress’ court:
The debt limit doesn’t decide how much we can borrow; you decide how much we can borrow.