Fact check: Debt ceiling raised at last minute under Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush

President Barack Obama’s communications director said we’ve “never” been in danger of defaulting before. That’s not true. Congress has come close to failing to raise the debt ceiling before defaulting more than once in recent years, under both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that if Congress does not raise the current debt limit — the amount of money that the federal government is allowed to borrow to pay for things such as benefits for entitlement programs and the interest on the national debt — the country will begin to default on its obligations on Aug. 2.

But is this the first time the country has been in “danger” of defaulting, as Pfeiffer claimed?

Hardly. We came close at least three other times, as recently as President George W. Bush’s first term, according to a Congressional Research Service report on the history of the debt limit increases.

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