The recurring farce of lifting the U.S. government debt ceiling began again this week. As total debt surpasses $31.4 trillion — the current statutory limit — the Treasury is undertaking a series of bookkeeping maneuvers to disguise new borrowing and keep the government operating. At some point, these methods will be exhausted. If Congress doesn’t vote to increase the limit, new borrowing could be halted and outright debt default is possible.

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