If you only listened to the noise in Washington, you'd think it really difficult to raise the country's debt ceiling. Truth is, it's not really so tough at all.
Not that anyone took the time to tell the Republicans. Just, like, minutes after reaching a deal to avoid the the fiscal cliff, they're back to panicking over this well-worn issue. Of course, a deal has been made many times before to raise our nation's arbitrary ceiling, not that you're likely to have heard that. Here some other things you might not know about the debt ceiling:
It doesn't create new spending
As Ben Bernanke put it, raising the debt ceiling “doesn’t create new deficits; it doesn’t create new spending,” <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/01/14/ben-bernanke-schools-congress-raising-limit-doesnt-create-new-deficits/">MNBC reports</a>. It is just a way for the U.S. to pay off its current debts.
It's been raised over 75 times already
This is hardly the first time Congress has had this conversation. In fact, the debt ceiling has <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/22/news/economy/debt-ceiling/index.htm">been raised more than 75 times</a> since it was first enacted.
It's made up
President Franklin Delano <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-talk-huppke-column-debt-ceiling-20130115,0,5768412.story">Roosevelt created the debt ceiling</a> in the 1930s out of thin air.
Congress didn't used to get into stalemates over it
Raising the debt ceiling really <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/n/national_debt_us/index.html">wasn't a big deal</a> until 2011, when people really started to panic about it.
It could be possibly avoided by minting a trillion-dollar coin
Republicans hate the trillion dollar coin, but it very well could allow us to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/trillion-dollar-coin-solution_n_2426333.html">avoid a debt ceiling-related default</a>.
If the U.S. doesn't raise the debt ceiling our credit rating may go down
Fitch could very well downgrade the U.S. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/fitch-debt-ceiling_n_2478413.html">credit rating</a> if the debt ceiling is not raised.