With government funding through September more or less resolved, lawmakers are gearing up for the next partisan battle: when to raise the debt ceiling. The maximum allowable U.S. debt is currently $14.294 trillion, a staggering figure that will nonetheless be reached within a few weeks. Treasury chief Tim Geithner has issued a stern warning against letting the debt ceiling lapse, saying it will wreak havoc on a fragile economy, and has already scheduled meetings with top legislators to win support for raising it—but many fear the government shutdown battle is only a small preview. Meanwhile, half a dozen senators (the “Gang of Six”) have been meeting in earnest behind close doors to come up with a deficit-reduction plan that could provide some political cover for voting to raise the debt ceiling.
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