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Raise the Roof: a Look at the U.S. Debt Ceiling

On Monday, the United States surpassed the $14.3 trillion debt limit and the Treasury Department said we’ve only got until August when it runs out of tricks to keep the country from falling into default. Getting the limit raised is easy enough — Congress has done it a dozen times since ’95 — but this time it is going to first require some major consensus on how to bring federal budget deficits under control. Here’s a look at why the debt ceiling is such a powerful bargaining chip in the budget negotiations.