However long the federal government’s current shutdown status lasts, there is the possibility that any Congressional compromise (or lack thereof) that might emerge will be reached with the understanding that results on some of the ObamaCare and budgetary sticking points can wait until the debt-ceiling fight later this month.
A government shutdown of a few days certainly means a lot of inconvenience for a heck of a lot of people, but the (arguably) much bigger crisis of hitting our debt limit and possibly defaulting might mean some serious repercussions throughout the world’s financial markets. So far, the markets don’t seem too perturbed, but as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reprimanded Congress in yet another letter on Tuesday, the deadline is fast approaching. Via Politico:
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew informed Congress today that the Treasury Department has begun to use “final extraordinary measures” to pay the country’s bills, and urged lawmakers to immediately raise the country’s debt ceiling.
In a letter to members of Congress, Lew detailed the last-resort steps Treasury has begun taking to make its payments, but warned that they “do not provide Congress with more time to act.”
“There are no legal and prudent options to extend the nation’s borrowing authority,” Lew wrote, repeating that Treasury still expects to exhaust all of its extraordinary measures on Oct. 17 — the previously stated deadline for Congress to up the nation’s borrowing limit.
I’d guess that that’s a deadline over which most lawmakers would rather not venture, and indeed, as Rep. Paul Ryan hinted today, the threat of surpassing the debt limit itself might be what finally forces some kind of budget deal:
Senior House of Representatives Republican Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that a mid-October deadline to raise the U.S. borrowing limit is a “forcing action” for a budget deal.
“We have a debt limit coming … in about two weeks,” Ryan told reporters at a brief news conference. The House Budget Committee chairman added: “Most budget agreements in the past have always involved debt limit increases.”