Debt Limit Debacle's Tab: $1.3B

Treasury maneuvering cost taxpayers dearly
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2012 9:11 AM CDT
A view of the US Capitol in Washington after the House voted on a deal to raise the debt ceiling, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, after the House voted on a deal on raising the debt ceiling.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – Last summer's debt ceiling showdown cost taxpayers at least $1.3 billion in increased borrowing costs, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released yesterday. Legislators' game of brinkmanship spooked investors, driving up the cost of government borrowing. It also forced the Treasury to perform some financial gymnastics, like delaying payments to retirement and benefit funds for federal workers. Figuring out how to do so generated almost 5,570 hours of work at the Bureau of Public Debt, the Washington Post explains.

The final cost is likely to be even higher, because the Treasury still has some liabilities outstanding. The GAO advises that in the future Congress get its debt ducks in a row "in a timely way." The US is nearing its debt ceiling yet again, and Republicans have indicated they may force another showdown. The current debt limit is set at $16.4 trillion; the US currently holds upward of $15.87 trillion of debt, notes Politico. (Read more Bureau of Public Debt stories.)

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