We've been brought to this point by the Republican Party, which has been hijacked by a band of insurgents who believe that threatening to crash the U.S. economy is a legitimate way to force concessions on Obamacare that they haven't been able to achieve through legitimate democratic means like passing bills through Congress, winning in court, or winning elections.
Appearing on MSNBC's The Last Word on Monday night, former Treasury official Mark Patterson explained what will happen if Republicans refuse to drop their economic gun from the nation's head and we head into tomorrow without an agreement on the debt ceiling:
The important thing to know is the 17th is the day after which Treasury can no longer guarantee that it can make all payments. The treasury secretary has not said there will not be any cash left on that day. The fact is he has estimated he'll have $30 billion. And since we have had a shut down, maybe he will have a little more than that.
This is kind of like the idea of driving with your car on empty, about to go into the desert and passing the last gas station intentionally and say, "I will take my chances and maybe there will be another gas station on down the road in the desert." That's what going past the 17th is about. You might be able to go farther, and you just might because cash does come in over the transom at Treasury, but you just don't know how far you can make it.
The latest numbers show that we won't be able to make it very far: we'll run out of money sometime between October 22 and November 1. If that happens, the United States will become the first major Western government to default on its debts since Nazi Germany in 1933.
Did anyone else wake up this morning with "One Day More" from Les Misérables stuck in their head? Here's a little gallows humor to start your day: