Recently the notion of the "debt ceiling" has been appearing in the news. It's making a comeback after spending months in the spotlight last summer, when the federal government nearly shut down as federal debt reached the legal limit. (Lawmakers ultimately raised the limit in the eleventh hour.) Currently, it is projected that the federal debt will hit the new debt ceiling sometime before the end of 2012. To once again avoid a government shutdown, lawmakers will again have to raise the debt ceiling, which is now set at $16.4 trillion.
Sound a little complicated? It just so happens that we wrote a book to explain all this stuff, so that when you see "debt ceiling" in the news, or when you hear candidates for office talking about debt, deficit, proposed spending cuts, and lots of other stuff, you can understand all the jargon.
Consider a recent news story. Speaker of the House John Boehner said he would only back an increase in the debt ceiling if it were paired with spending cuts of comparable size.
Speaker Boehner has also expressed an openness to reducing deficits by closing some tax loopholes and deductions in order to raise additional tax revenues. But what, exactly, are these loopholes and deductions? A People's Guide to the Federal Budget has an explanation of deductions and loopholes in the tax code, and how those loopholes have created a tax system in which two corporations can pay wildly different tax rates even if they're in the same industry. This book also has a whole chapter on debt and deficit, including some history behind that debt ceiling, plus some economic theory 101 to help you understand why lawmakers argue over whether we should be cutting spending while the economy is struggling.
That's just a sampling of what's in this book. If you happen to check it out, let us know what you think.