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U.S. businesses want debt limit addressed

Nov. 23, 2012 at 8:36 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Wall Street and businesses want lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling as part of the so-called fiscal cliff package, but some Republicans are balking.

The Treasury Department estimates the United States will reach its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit by the end of the year, and the limit will need to be increased by early 2013, The Hill reported Friday.

Some members of the U.S. business community say they want Congress to go ahead and include a measure to increase the debt limit in the package they devise to avoid the looming fiscal cliff, when hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to begin Jan. 1.

Ken Bensten, head of the Washington office at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said that if Congress addresses the debt limit now, it clears the way for them to work on broad fiscal reforms.

"As a practical matter, it would make sense to wrap it in," he said. "You could move on to deal with tax reform and fiscal reform and all other things ... and not have this looming cataclysmic event hanging over you," he said.

Republican lawmakers, though, say they want to avoid raising the debt limit under a lame-duck Congress, The Hill reported.

"If you would raise the debt ceiling in some kind of agreement here in the lame duck, you would have raised the debt ceiling twice and not cut any spending," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee. "To me, that's a huge problem."

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has been meeting one-on-one with the chief executive officers of several large companies such as General Electric, Xerox and Honeywell International to garner support in averting the fiscal cliff, CNNMoney reported.

Talks over the crisis at hand could lead to improved relations between the president and the business community, smoothing over tensions of the past four years.

"We're in the time of decision making. ... We have to fix the fiscal cliff. I think you're going to see a ramped-up engagement," said Matthew Miller, vice president at the Business Roundtable, which represents CEOs of big business.

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