We Hit the Debt Ceiling Months Ago. Nobody Cared.

Here’s another quick reminder for everyone: It’s not true that we’ll hit the debt ceiling on October 18. We’ve already hit it. This happened first on December 31 of last year, and then, after a few months of legislative maneuvering, again on May 19. The Treasury Department has been taking extraordinary measures—withholding payments to pension funds, taking money from the Exchange Stabilization Fund, etc.—to keep the government running ever since.

I only mention this to illustrate how far things have degenerated. Nobody even cares about actually breaching the debt ceiling anymore. We did that months ago, and it was just a date on the calendar. It’s only when the Treasury has exhausted its ability to rob Peter to pay Paul, with all the attendant chaos this produces, that we’ve “really” hit the debt ceiling. Welcome to the new normal, courtesy of the Republican Party.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.