In as little as eight days, on June 1, the U.S. government could run out of cash and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen restated the warning this week, noting that if Congress and the White House don’t reach a deal before that happens, payments people rely on to live could be delayed.
Without a debt limit increase, Yellen reiterated on Monday she expects to be able to pay the U.S. government’s bills only until June 1.
She said she thought a deal could be reached with bipartisan support, and President Joe Biden’s negotiators have offered proposals that would reduce deficits by $1 trillion over 10 years. Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget request offered about $3 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade through tax increases in excess of major spending increases, Reuters reported.
Some House Republicans and others are growing skeptical of the June 1 deadline set by Yellen and see her warnings as creating manufactured deadline pressure, The Hill reported.
When asked if Yellen’s June 1 date was real, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told reporters: “Ask Janet Yellen. She’s the one with the magic Ouija board.”
“The fact is, we’re gonna have cash in June. The fact is, we’re not going to default on our debt. That’s just completely false. We’ve got the money to do it,” Roy said.
Some private forecasters, including Goldman Sachs and Moody’s Analytics, estimate that a default could come a few days after June 1, between June 6 and June 9.
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“There will be hard choices to make about what bills go unpaid” if the talks fail or are too slow, Yellen said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.
If there is no deal by June 1, Yellen said her first priorities would include paying interest on existing debt and making sure Social Security recipients and military employees get their checks on time.
A default could affect homeowners’ assistance and federal salaries, among others.
At the beginning of the month, more than 10 million people get about $25 billion in Supplemental Security Income payments and veterans payments, said Wendy Edelberg at the Brookings Institution.
They could be the first to see their payments delayed, and then “it just keeps cascading” through all sorts of other benefits, programs, and the whole U.S. economy, she said.
If the government would “maybe withhold payments to government contractors … that’s where you could see a risk,” especially for defense and health care companies, said Strategas Securities Managing Director Jeannette Lowe.
No one knows exactly what it will look like if the U.S. runs out of money.
“The federal government’s never been in a position where it’s been unable to pay all of its bills … there’s no playbook here,” said Shai Akabas at the Bipartisan Policy Center. What’s certain is that some people who get regular payments from the government won’t get them on time.
In a protracted default, the White House has said it would lead to a recession and the stock market plummeting 45 percent.