Jack Lew: US About to Default on Its Debt Treasury secretary asks Congress to extend the debt limit By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff Posted Feb 3, 2014 4:25 PM CST 152 comments Comments United States Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew speaks during a news conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at the Finance Ministry in Berlin, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) (Newser) – US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a message to Congress today: To wit, we need more money, and fast. Lew warned lawmakers that they'd better raise the country's borrowing limit before the current debt-limit suspension expires on Friday and reinstates a $16.7 trillion cap, the BBC reports. Lew said he can use emergency measures—accounting maneuvers, basically—if Congress won't play ball, but US finances will get tight when the feds issue annual income tax refunds. Republicans have sought spending cuts in return for a higher borrowing limit before, but seem reluctant to do so this time around. Last year's debt battle led to a government shutdown that shook financial markets and sent consumer confidence plummeting, Time reminds us.