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Frequently Asked Questions

When will we hit the debt limit?

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew estimates his department will run out of authority to borrow more money to pay America’s debts on October 17.

What does that mean?

At that point, the Treasury Department would only be able to pay as many bills as can be covered by current tax revenues.

Can the government manage this in a way that prevents default?


What will happen if we default?

Terrible things. Some compare it to Lehman Brothers failing in 2008, sparking the financial crisis. Others say it would be much worse than that, with the government unable to help. The result could be a lingering depression compounded by higher interest rates.

Will my Social Security checks be delayed if America hits the debt limit?

It’s very likely that they could.

Latest news:

“In military terms, the government shutdown is conventional warfare and refusing to raise the debt limit is nuclear war.”

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Photo: Gage Skidmore via


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