Updated at 1:30 pm EDT
“Failure to raise the debt limit is a self-inflicted wound to the economy,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said today. “The time to make policy is before, not after we make commitments. Congress can get it done. The time to act is now.”
Lew, speaking at a breakfast of the Economic Club of Washington, was talking about the challenge the Congress will face sometime this fall. The Congressional Budget Office reported today that the government will meet its debt limit sometime in late October to mid-November.
The CBO reported today that “between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing federal debt to soar. Federal debt held by the public is now about 73 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP). ”
House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement issued by his office:
“CBO’s latest report serves as yet another warning that Washington must act now to rein in our massive deficits and debt, which are hurting our economy, costing jobs, and jeopardizing the American Dream for our kids and grand kids… The president and his party should be honest with the American people about the fiscal challenges we face, and demonstrate the courage necessary to work in a bipartisan way to solve our spending problem.”
Boehner said that he had met with Lew last week and reminded Lew that “for decades, the White House and the Congress have used the debt limit to find bipartisan solutions on the deficit and the debt.”
Lew was asked about a lot more today, including his famously challenged penmanship, his smartest bosses in government (he called comparing the intellect of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama “a foolhardy proposition.”
Mark Silva contributed to this report.