U.S. debt limit hike to $12.1 trillion in stimulus

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. borrowing authority would rise to $12.1 trillion under an economic stimulus bill rapidly moving through Congress, congressional aides said on Thursday.

Congress must authorize any increases in the federal government’s credit limit, which currently is set at $11.3 trillion.

But with government spending rapidly escalating -- because of financial industry bailouts, the Iraq war, increasing costs of retirement and health care programs and the $789 billion economic stimulus bill moving through Congress -- the Treasury Department is rapidly closing in on the limit.

The U.S. debt currently is slightly more than $10.7 trillion.

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, the U.S. debt limit was around $5.7 trillion and debt rapidly rose through the eight years of his presidency.

Reporting by Richard Cowan