United States Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew spoke with FOX Business Network (FBN) about moving up the deadline for the debt limit saying, “Congress should act; they need to act as quickly as possible.” Lew went on to talk about the debt limit saying, “I’m trying to be very clear: the consequences are very serious.  And I don’t like to be an alarmist; I don’t want to do anything to cause there to be anxiety about the state of the U.S. economy.  But we have to worry about a self-inflicted wound, which is why Congress needs to act.” Lew went on to say, “The United States should never not keep its word to pay its bills.”

Jack Lew: "The U.S. Should Never Not Keep Its Word To Pay Its Bills"

Jack Lew on sending a letter to Congress that the debt limit is November 3rd:

“You have to keep in mind that the U.S. government is a $3.7 trillion, almost $4 trillion enterprise.  We’re talking about swings of $4 to $6 billion, very small changes.  Because when we hit the limit and can’t borrow anymore, we’re operating on a cash basis.  It means we have to have enough money every day to pay the current day’s bills but also the next day’s bills. At the point on November 3rd when we run out of borrowing capacity, we will have roughly $30 billion in reserve.  That’s very little.  There are individual days when we have $50 billion of expenditures…A single day.  So the swings are dramatic from day to day in terms of what bills we have to pay and how much money comes in.  You can’t get to zero.  If you get to zero, you’re going to fail, at some point, to pay your bills…So you need to be sure you raise the debt limit to avoid that.”

Jack Lew on how long it would take to run out of money:

“So, as I’ve said, we have $30 billion and we’re opearting on cash.  There’s a bit of time before you actually run out of the ability to pay your bills, but not very much time.  A very, very short period of time.  Congress can’t get to the place where we don’t know how many days we can go.  It’s an inherently unrepdictable thing, because the day-to-day cash flow is not locked in in advance.”

Jack Lew on how tax revenues are trading:

“We saw and the reason the date moved from the 5th to the 3rd is, we saw, as the September tax collections came in, as the final September expenditures were made, that the numbers were just a little bit lower on the revenue side, a little bit higher on the expenditure side, a $4 to $6 billion difference.  That’s what moved the date from the 5th to the 3rd.”

Jack Lew on the consequences of hitting the debt ceiling:

“I’m trying to be very clear: the consequences are very serious.  And I don’t like to be an alarmist; I don’t want to do anything to cause there to be anxiety about the state of the U.S. economy.  But we have to worry about a self-inflicted wound, which is why Congress needs to act. What we don’t need right now is to take an economy that’s now doing well, looked around the world as a source of strength, and do something that weakens it.  That’s what would happen if Congress fails to act.  Congress needs to act.”

Jack Lew on whether he heard from anybody in Congress since his letter went on this morning:

“Well, I put in calls as I always do to all the leaders when I send these letters.  I will speak with all of them.  I’ve spoken to some of them.  I think they understand, you know, we — my policy for the last three years has been to share information as we know it.  I think that it’s a good policy.  They need to know and they need to be able to avoid an accident and a misstep. Only Congress can raise the debt limit and something I have to remind you and your viewers about is the debt limit does not commit us to any new spending.  All the debt limit does is it gives us the ability to pay the bills for expenses that were committed to a long time ago…And it would be the equivalent of running up a, you know, as a former Republican governor said to me, running up a tab at the restaurant and leaving without paying the bill if you do otherwise. The government of the United States in our entire history has never failed to pay our bills.  We can’t begin now.  Congress should act; they need to act as quickly as possible.”

Jack Lew on whether he believes Congress will act:

“So I believe that the leaders of Congress understand this has to happen.  I don’t think it was a very good experience the last time.  We got right up to the edge, and, you know, we’re talking about a global economy that is it’s an anxious time in the global economy.  The U.S. is seen as an island of strength in the global economy right now.  This would be a terrible time to raise concerns about whether the U.S. has the ability to pay its bills and maintain its stability…I think the leaders understand that.”

Jack Lew on what will happen if we hit the debt ceiling:

“The consequences of not being able to pay your bills means that the day will come when there isn’t enough money in the federal account to keep current with our obligations.  Depending on what day it is, that will affect different kinds of obligations. To me, it makes very little difference in terms of the consequence of keeping our word if we pay one but not the other.  We have to pay all our bills.  It’s just unacceptable.  We can’t say we’re going to pay Social Security but not veterans.  We’re going to Medicare but not to people who provide electricity to federal hospitals?  And we have to pay our principal and interest on our debt. There been I think a fallacious notion that you can pick and choose.  Our system was set up to pay our bills.  Because the full faith and credit of the United States should never be called into question.”

Jack Lew on why we can’t prioritize our debt:

“I think the idea that the United States government would say there’s some set obligations where we promised to pay, whether it’s a benefit to an individual, or paying for services that we’ve already received, and we’re not going to pay those because we don’t have  the money?  That would be a terrible thing. What does that say about the credit-worthiness of the United States?  The reliability of the United States?”

Jack Lew on whether he won’t prioritize:

“I’m saying that in the entirety, with 80 — we have tens of millions of transactions, you know, every, every period…Bill paying, bill paying.  And we don’t have the capacity to pick and choose we’ll pay this bill and not that bill.  The

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