Congress could raise the debt limit anytime now, if lawmakers agreed, before resolving the fiscal cliff. But it's being discussed as part of the bigger tax-and-spending package. The White House says raising the debt limit must be included in the deal; Boehner says the Republicans want any increase in the government's borrowing to be matched by spending cuts.
Remember the last debt limit showdown? The government came within a whisker of default in August 2011 before a compromise was reached. The financial markets reeled. Standard & Poor's downgraded the nation's credit rating.
Again coming to the edge of default â¿¿ an economic crisis that scares investors more than the fiscal cliff â¿¿ would probably send markets plummeting and finally shake up lawmakers, too.
"That's a pretty scary thing to watch," Zandi said. "For a policymaker that's real motivation."___ Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass