Consumer Watch: Debt Ceiling

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Not every household has felt the impact of the federal government's partial shutdown. But if Washington fails to make a deal on the debt ceiling and the nation defaults on its debt, that could be a different scenario.

If the difference between the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate is confusing - it's not you, it's Congress. Their stalemate has intertwined the two.

The government shut down because Congress didn't pass a budget to keep all federal agencies running. It's like a household's money for everyday expenses like groceries or gas in the car.

The debt ceiling deals with borrowed money, like a household's credit limit, albeit a nearly 17 trillion dollar one. The Treasury Department says on October 17th, the U.S. will max out. “There is no option that prevents us from being in default if we don't have enough cash to pay our bills,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said. Balancing Washington's checkbook may sound like Washington's problem. But millions of Americans will feel the effects if there's trouble paying the bills.

A default could wreak havoc on the stock market, potentially sinking retirement funds. Bank loans for homes, autos, and higher education, plus credit card debt, could become more costly, as interest rates rise.

The debt ceiling debate in the summer of 20-11 took a toll on consumer confidence despite a last-minute deal. This time it's on the cusp of the crucial holiday spending season. The National Retail Federation issued a forecast for a modest increase over last year, but with the caveat that economic uncertainty could end up playing scrooge.

If you have an issue you’d like us to investigate send an e-mail to consumerwatch@whas11.com.
 

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