Briefing

'Fiscal cliff'? 'Sequester'? Your guide to Congress's code language.

Congress knows what it means by terms such as 'fiscal cliff' or 'Simpson-Bowles,' but to many outside the Beltway they may as well be speaking Greek. Here's a translation of Washington's shorthand for budgetary issues now before the country – with each entry explained in 50 words or less.  

By , Staff writer

3. Debt limit

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    President Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Aug. 2, 2011. The law included lifting the national debt ceiling.
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A cap Congress sets on how much total debt the US government can incur through borrowing, currently $16.394 trillion. Created by law in 1917 and altered 91 times since 1940, most recently in August 2011. Also known as the debt ceiling.

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