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GAO Says Debt-Limit Fight Raised U.S. Borrowing Costs

Last year’s debt-limit fight cost taxpayers at least $1.3 billion, according to a report released today.

The Government Accountability Office said the protracted budget fight fueled uncertainty among investors, which increased the government’s borrowing costs last year by $1.3 billion.

The total cost may be even higher, according to the report, because that figure doesn’t include higher future borrowing costs or the costs of pulling Treasury officials away from their usual duties to manage the debt as lawmakers battled over the conditions of an increase.

“Congress should consider ways to better link decisions about the debt limit with decisions about spending and revenue to avoid potential disruptions to the Treasury market and to help inform the fiscal policy debate in a timely way,” the report said.

Lawmakers ultimately agreed to cut $2.1 trillion in government spending before voting last August to raise the debt limit to the current $16.4 trillion. The government will probably be brushing up against the debt ceiling once again by the end of this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Faler in Washington at bfaler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net

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