Public Debt Limit

December 24, 1953

Report Outline
Debt Limit Increase in the Balance
Growth of Debt in War and Depression
Public Debt and the National Economy
Special Focus

Debt Limit Increase in the Balance

The state of the government's finances as the year 1953 draws to a close makes it virtually certain that Congress will again be asked to increase the public debt limit. President Eisenhower said Nov. 18 that the question would not be decided until late December but it was authoritatively reported, after a White House conference Dec, 18, that congressional leaders had been told by Secretary of the Treasury Humphrey that the government would not be able to meet its obligations during the coming year without additional borrowing authority.

A special message by the President last July 30, when Congress was within a few days of a planned adjournment, asked that the debt ceiling be raised from $275 billion to $290 billion. The House approved the increase but no action was taken by the Senate. At the time of the President's message, the debt subject to the statutory limit stood at $272.1 billion. It had risen by mid-December to $274.4 billion, within $5 billion of the World War II high, but was still some $600 million below the present ceiling.

Half Year of Financial Manipulation

Expedients to stay within the limit until Congress reconvenes in January have included a slow-down of payments to government contractors, cessation of sales of tax-saving notes to corporations, and sale of some of the Commodity Credit Corporation's crop loans to banks with a promise to buy them back in 1954. The chief resource, however, has been the Treasury's general fund. The general fund balance has been drawn down more than $5.2 billion since the end of July to meet government obligations which would have been met largely with borrowed funds if the debt limit had been raised.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Federal Budget and National Debt
Sep. 01, 2017  National Debt
Jul. 12, 2013  Government Spending
May 15, 2012  State Capitalism
Mar. 18, 2011  National Debt
Nov. 14, 2008  The National Debt
Dec. 09, 2005  Budget Deficit
Apr. 13, 2001  Budget Surplus
Feb. 01, 1991  Recession's Regional Impact
Jan. 20, 1984  Federal Budget Deficit
Sep. 09, 1977  Federal Reorganization and Budget Reform
Nov. 24, 1972  Limits on Federal Spending
Jan. 08, 1969  Federal Budget Making
Dec. 06, 1967  National Debt Management
Aug. 01, 1962  Fiscal and Budget Policy
Nov. 27, 1957  National Debt Limit
Mar. 20, 1957  Spending Controls
Dec. 24, 1953  Public Debt Limit
Feb. 13, 1952  Tax and Debt Limitation
Nov. 30, 1949  Government Spending
Jan. 06, 1948  Legislative Budget-Making
May 23, 1944  The National Debt
Feb. 01, 1943  The Executive Budget and Appropriations by Congress
Dec. 27, 1939  Revision of the Federal Budget System
Oct. 10, 1938  The Outstanding Government Debt
Nov. 20, 1937  Budget Balancing vs. Pump Priming
May 02, 1936  The Deficit and the Public Debt
Oct. 19, 1934  The Federal Budget and the Public Debt
Feb. 10, 1933  Extraordinary Budgeting of Federal Finances
Dec. 01, 1932  Reduction of Federal Expenditures
Dec. 01, 1930  The National Budget System
Oct. 02, 1930  Federal Revenues and Expenditures
Nov. 02, 1927  The Public Debt and Foreign Loans
Nov. 15, 1926  Rising Cost of Government in the United States
Feb. 05, 1925  Four Years Under the Budget System
Deficit, Federal Debt, and Balanced Budget