The top White House economic adviser warned lawmakers Sunday that the United States faces a catastrophe if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, as spend-averse Republicans indicated they’d be willing to support the increase so long as certain conditions are met. The debt ceiling debate is one of the first major legislative clashes on tap as lawmakers return to Washington this coming week for the start of the 112th Congress. The $13.9 trillion national debt is creeping closer to its $14.3 trillion ceiling, and a vote to increase that limit is expected in the spring. Though lawmakers will no doubt use the vote to extract promises over future spending cuts, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee urged Congress not to "toy with" the issue. "This is not a game," Goolsbee said on ABC’s "This Week." "If we hit the debt ceiling, that’s essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. "The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial than anything we saw in 2008," Goolsbee said. "I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling."