Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson weighed in on the budget and debt ceiling to raise the debt ceiling Raising the Roof on the Debt Ceiling. The debt ceiling was raised a total of 7 times (total increase of $bil) during Pres. Bush's eight-year term and it was raised 11 times (as of 03/ a total increase of $bil) during Pres. Obama's eight years in office. May 05, · The debt ceiling basically is the limit on the national credit card, the maximum amount that can be owed at any one time. The government hits the limit with some regularity because federal spending vastly exceeds revenue.