Congress is debating an 11th-hour compromise plan on the nation’s debt ceiling that would stave off a U.S. default. The Onion looks back at the history and crises of one of America’s most sacred institutions.
1789: U.S. goes into debt for first time when George Washington borrows five shillings from a British friend.
1917: Congress establishes debt ceiling to ensure government doesn’t indulge in frivolous helping.
1946: Secret shadow government debt ceiling tripled to help fund Cold War.
1995: Everyone involved in debt ceiling negotiations agrees it so pointless and awful that country has no choice but to go through it again and again and again.
1999: Debt ceiling raised an extra $23.99 to cover donuts for Harry Reid’s birthday.
2003: Congress raises debt ceiling to afford one slightly used Iraq.
2011: Republicans demand President Obama give up his own healthcare in exchange for raising debt ceiling.
2014: National debt hits all-time high under weight of Obama’s Candy Crush microtransactions.
2023: Despite calls to ignore the made-up ceiling, Democrats still capitulate to Republicans.
2025: America defaults on its debt and is purchased by China.