Forget the Mayan calendar, and forget the fiscal cliff. The people of the United States are facing a very real government meltdown in a matter of weeks, according to a Washington Post article by Ezra Klein dated Jan 7, 2013. Between Feb. 15, 2013, and March 1, 2013, the government will not have enough money to operate unless the debt ceiling is raised. If it is not, the Washington Post predicts a frightening scenario:
It can cover interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense spending, education, food stamps and other low-income transfers, and a handful of other programs, but doing all that will mean defaulting on everything — really, everything — else. The FBI will shut down. The people responsible for tracking down loose nukes will lose their jobs. The prisons won’t operate. The biomedical researchers won’t be funded. The court system will close its doors. The tax refunds won’t go out. The Federal Aviation Administration will go offline. The parks will close. Food safety inspections will cease.
The U.S. government actually hit its debt ceiling on Dec. 31, 2012. Like a family living off of their credit cards who suddenly maxed out the last one, everything is on cash now. There is not nearly enough cash, and some big bills are coming due. As President Obama has stated to the public, these bills are for money already spent that can’t go unpaid without serious consequences to our nation’s economic stability.
CNN lays out the budget for Feb. 15, 2013, as an example of the predicted shortfall unless the debt ceiling is raised. The treasury will take in 9 billion on this day and will be required to pay out 52 billion.
The bills due that day include $30 billion in interest on the debt; $6.8 billion in IRS refunds; $3.5 billion in federal salaries and benefits; $2.7 billion in military active pay; $2.3 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments; $1.5 billion to defense vendors; $1.1 billion in safety net spending, including for food stamps and unemployment benefits; and $4.4 billion in other spending.
The Republicans intend to refuse to raise the debt ceiling without significant cuts in spending, which the Democrats are quite likely to oppose. If the recent fiscal cliff negotiations are any indicator, this could prove to be a very tense, time in our national conversation.
You can drop me a tweet on Twitter @BarbieCrafts