WASHINGTON -- Here's the truth about a government "shutdown." The government doesn't shut down. So the world won't end if a dysfunctional Washington can't find a way to pass a funding bill before the new budget year begins on Oct. 1.
Social Security checks will still go out. Troops will remain at their posts. Doctors and hospitals will get their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. In fact, virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, will remain open. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, eventually. Transportation Security Administration officers would continue to man airport checkpoints.
But lurking around the corner is far bigger danger: Sometime in late October or early November the government could run out of cash. The U.S. would be unable to pay all of its bills in full and on time for the first time in history if it couldn't borrow more money.
To prevent a "shutdown," Congress must pass a temporary spending bill before Oct. 1. To prevent a default, it must raise the $16.7 trillion cap on government borrowing.