World News

Treasury Secretary Says US Must Raise Debt Limit

US Treasury Secretary Urges Swift Debt Limit Hikei
X
October 10, 2013 4:12 PM
One week before a potential U.S. debt default, the Obama administration says lawmakers must raise America’s borrowing limit, and must do so promptly. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned of severe economic and financial fallout if the U.S. government were suddenly to become insolvent.
"US Treasury Secretary Urges Swift Debt Limit Hike" - related video report by Michael Bowman
VOA News
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says it would be "a grave mistake" for the United States to fail to increase its borrowing limit in the next week so it does not default on a wide range of financial obligations.

Lew told a Senate panel Thursday the U.S. will run out of borrowing authority in a week as its reaches its current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. At that point, he said the Treasury would only have about $30 billion on hand and some incoming revenue, but not enough to pay all its bills.

He said the government should not have to make "perilous choices" whether it uses its available cash to pay government bond holders, pension and health benefits owed to older Americans, aid to military veterans or businesses that provide services to the government.

"The United States should not be put in a position of making such perilous choices for our economy and our citizens," he said. "There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets."

But Lew declined to say how much of an increase U.S. President Barack Obama wants in the debt ceiling, other than to say it should cover borrowing needs for a longer, rather than shorter period of time.

The debate over increasing the U.S. debt limit comes in the midst of a 10-day partial government shutdown because of a stalemate between Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican opponents in Congress over government spending priorities and the implementation of widespread health care reforms that are his signature legislative achievement.

Senator Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that while the government shutdown "has been disruptive, a default would be a financial heart attack."

Republican Orrin Hatch criticized Obama for not negotiating over government spending issues while asking for an increase in the country's debt limit without conditions.

Hatch noted that in 2006, then-Senator Obama called a proposed increase in the debt ceiling at the time a "failure of leadership," when Republican President George W. Bush was in office. Hatch said the borrowing limit has since been increased seven times during Obama's term in the White House, from $11.3 trillion to the current $16.7 trillion.

U.S. news outlets say congressional Republicans are considering a proposal to temporarily extend the government's borrowing authority - possibly for four to six weeks - in order to end the debt ceiling stalemate with the president to avoid a potential default.  

House Republicans are scheduled to discuss the issue early Thursday, hours before a small group will hold talks with Obama at the White House. The president invited all 232 House Republicans, but Speaker John Boehner is sending just 18 of his members, and only those with leadership posts.

The standoff over the government shutdown between Republicans and Obama is chiefly over the president's health care law that by January will require most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

Republicans had originally sought to either end spending for the law or delay it in exchange for halting the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling, and Boehner has called on Obama to hold negotiations before letting the House vote.  

But the president says he will not negotiate until Congress approves the issues without any conditions. The partial shutdown has halted numerous government services, including death benefits to the families of U.S. service members killed in combat.  The public backlash prompted the House to vote unanimously Wednesday to restore the benefits. The measure now goes to the Senate.

The Pentagon has reached an agreement with a private charity to pay the benefits until funding is restored.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs