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Monday, January 14, 2013 - 7:24pm
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The Obama administration on Monday turned up the heat on Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
The Treasury Department, hours after President Obama again said he would not negotiate with Congress over the issue, said it will run out of ways to keep the country under the legal borrowing limit sometime between mid-February and early March.
U.S. borrowing officially hit its $16.394 trillion legal limit on Dec. 31. As a result, until the debt ceiling is raised, Treasury is not allowed to borrow new money to help it pay all the country's financial obligations.
Since the country operates with a deficit, Treasury on average takes in about $100 billion less in revenue every month than it has committed to pay out for everything from payments to federal contractors, Social Security checks to seniors, interest on the debt and salaries for federal workers.
To cover near-term borrowing needs, Treasury has begun using "extraordinary measures" to harvest $200 billion.
"If extraordinary measures were allowed to expire without an increase in borrowing authority, Treasury would be left to fund the government solely with the cash we have on hand on any given day," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a letter to congressional leaders.
Also on Monday, Obama in a press conference stressed that raising the debt ceiling is not a license to spend more money. Rather, he said, it would allow Treasury to pay financial obligations already authorized by lawmakers.
"America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they've already racked up."