The United States Treasury reports that the Federal debt has exceeded $13.9 trillion, which comes dangerously close to the statutory ceiling of $14.29 trillion set by Congress and approved by President Barack Obama last February.
The Obama administration is pushing to increase the debt limit, but could face resistance from a stronger Republican presence in Congress, which has pledged to reduce government spending and lower the deficit. Freshmen Tea Party lawmakers in particular are expected to take a hard line against an increase in the debt ceiling.
However, White House officials have warned that a failure to increase the limit would result in a "catastrophic" economic crisis. Appearing on ABC's This Week on Jan. 2, Obama's top economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, said that the U.S. would go into default if the ceiling isn't raised, which could create a bigger fiscal mess than in 2008, when the nation entered into a severe recession.
"I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling," Goolsbee told the news provider. "If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity."
According to FOX News, the national debt climbed approximately $1 trillion in a seven-month span, from June 2010 to the end of the year. The news provider reported that the deficit increased by 60 percent under former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who served for four years.