Congress comes back to town this week with the clock clicking toward a shutdown. As The Post reported Saturday and Politico reports today, Democrats and Republicans, the White House and Congress can't quite get to yes on an agreement for the budget for the current fiscal year. And the clock is ticking toward default.
I’m not going to rehash what I wrote last week. But if Congress does not raise the legal limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow to pay the bills for expenses already incurred, the United States will default on its obligations for the first time in its history. As I warned, allowing this to happen “would unleash a hell on the American people and the economy that would make the financial meltdown of 2008 look mild.” A look at the calendar shows how high the probability of that happening is.
April 5: New House rule stipulates that bills must be made public 72 hours before a vote. Thus, a new continuing resolution or budget agreement would have to be unveiled by this date to avoid a government shutdown.
April 8: The latest continuing resolution on the 2011 budget expires.
April 15: Treasury predicts the federal government could hit the legal debt limit between this date and May 31.
April 18-May 1: The House and the Senate will be in recess for Easter.
As you can see, there's so much to do and so little time. So, brace yourself. If Congress does not get around to raising the debt ceiling we could be in for a world of hurt.
[Update, 4:15 p.m.: @BudgetHawks of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget just issued the following news on Twitter: "RT/natdebtcounter: The National #Debt Is $14,212,439,502,848.04: Up $905,951,207.07 since prev update on 03/25/2011." That puts us about $82 billion away from the $14.29 trillion debt limit, folks.]