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Debt Ceiling

The Debt-Ceiling Deal: Here's What We Know

We have a debt-ceiling deal. Maybe … or maybe not. The markets are happy, posting the biggest one-day jump since January on optimism over a possible deal, even as details remain sketchy at best. Here’s a look at what’s on the table, and what the solution might do, and what would still be unsolved.

What are the basics of the potential deal? House Speaker John Boehner is proposing to temporarily increase the limit on how much the government can borrow until Nov. 22. This six-week reprieve would release the imminent pressure of the Oct. 17 deadline when the Treasury Department says the government will need to start defaulting on its obligations if it can’t borrow more. It also gives more time to iron out a longer-term plan.

November 22—isn’t that right before Thanksgiving? Bingo.

Are strings attached? Some. It will prohibit the Treasury Department from taking “extraordinary measures” to prolong its solvency, according to Bloomberg News, making Nov. 22 a hard deadline. But the proposal doesn’t directly tie the increase in the debt ceiling to the debates over the federal budget. President Obama has been insistent that action on the debt ceiling not be conditional on budget talks, but many rank-and-file Republicans want just that. So this could be a sticking point within the GOP.

If the deal doesn’t address the budget, what does this mean for the government shutdown? That’s not entirely clear. For now, the proposal doesn’t reopen the government. Politico’s reporting that Boehner may be able to push through a bill next week to end the shutdown until Nov. 22, too. Republican sources told Huffington Post that’s “doubtful.”

When will we know if this plan’s going to work out? Boehner’s meeting with Obama on Thursday at 4:35 p.m. After that, we should get a sense of what may work or if there are deal-breakers between the parties or within the GOP.


Weise is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in Seattle. Follow her on Twitter @kyweise.

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