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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Despite what you've heard from congressional Republicans over the last decade, there's no limit to how much the government can spend — and that'll become evident as the federal government prepares its "phase three" coronavirus stimulus package.

Why it matters: U.S. government spending is about to skyrocket, with checks going out to individuals, loans being handed to companies and other attempts to stanch the coming economic pain.

How it works: When Congress passes a spending bill, Treasury borrows all of the necessary funds by issuing Treasury bonds.

  • There is no debt ceiling at the moment — it was suspended in last year's budget deal — so Treasury can issue as many new bonds as it wants.
  • Because the U.S. government is considered the safest borrower in the world, there is always ample demand for Treasury bonds.
  • The bonds are sold to banks, and if the banks don't have enough money to buy them, the Federal Reserve will lend them as much as they need. The banks then turn around and sell the bonds, at a small profit, to investors from around the world.

The big picture: The stimulus' impact on the national debt isn't a big worry on Capitol Hill, several Democratic and Republican aides tell Axios. 

  • "Folks aren't super concerned about debt right now — they just want to act. … And we normally would be [concerned], but this is uncharted territory,” one Senate GOP aide said.
  • "We’re going to borrow and the debt will go up,” another GOP aide said, adding that there haven’t been many discussions about the longer-term economic impact. "The truth is that we need to spend money to help people right now."

Worth noting: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not scored either the "phase two" plan or "phase three" proposal, so their ultimate cost to the government is still unknown.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.