Congress faces deadline on debt ceiling

Zoë Woods

Thursday, Oct. 17, is the deadline. Congress will have make a decision on whether to raise the debt ceiling or face a default on all of its current debts.

The United States is currently $17 trillion in debt. Argentina is the only country to have ever defaulted on its debts, in 2001.

In order for a decision to be made, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has to sit down with Speaker of the House John Boehner, or President Barack Obama must sit down with Republicans. However, these discussions are not in process. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he feels the economy will not be sorely affected if the United States goes past its deadline by a few days. The government spends approximately $3 trillion regularly, and 80 percent of that money is tax money.

“The definition of a default is not paying your interest on the national debt,”  Grassley said. “It seems to me that it’s just a matter of prioritizing to pay the interest on the national debt, pay a lot of other things that are common sense that you need to pay.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he feels it is important for a decision to be made so as to avoid an economic downfall.

“Allowing the bill that’s over there, that is a clean continuing resolution to put on the House floor for a vote,” Harkin said. “There is no question it would pass with enough Republicans and Democrats.”

Harkin said the Republicans are saying that the Democrats are refusing to negotiate and that Obama is refusing to negotiate under these circumstances.

“Well the past six months we have asked on to set aside no less than 19 times to go to a conference on the budget, so the House passed a budget, [the Senate] passed a budget,” Harkin said. “They’re different and usually you go to conference to work it out, and that’s where we can negotiate on health care, tax reform and anything that the Republicans would like to discuss.”

Harkin said that for every continuing resolution or for every bill to extend the debt limit, a small minority could threaten economic havoc.

College students in Iowa will be among those to feel the effects of a default. If the United States were to default on its debts, there is speculation that interest rates will go up, and that will be reflected on the interest rates charged on student loans.

For those students getting ready to graduate and looking for jobs, the possible default could affect their chances in finding jobs.