WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a central question in the debt ceiling debate: How long should the nation's new borrowing authority last?
From the start, President Barack Obama has insisted that Congress must raise the current $14.3 trillion debt limit by $2.4 trillion. That would work out to about a 17-month extension, setting up the next vote safely after next year's elections.
But what's the magic in that? The nation has increased the debt ceiling time and again by shorter periods, often during presidential election years.
Republicans, meanwhile, in a plan put forth by House Speaker John Boehner, want a six-month debt ceiling increase that would be followed by a longer one only if Congress enacts sweeping reforms to the tax system and to massive benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid.