Does the Government Shutdown Delay the Debt Ceiling Indefinitely?

| Thu Oct. 3, 2013 10:05 AM EDT

The government is shut down. Since Social Security, Medicare, and other mandatory programs make up the bulk of federal spending, this doesn't mean we're no longer spending money. But we're spending a lot less. At least a third less, I think, and that should put us pretty close to balanced budget levels of spending. We might even be under that.

So....does this mean that we're no longer running up new debt? And does that in turn mean that we're not going to hit the debt ceiling as long as the government remains shut down? Have we gotten any kind of estimate from the Treasury Department about this?

POSTSCRIPT: Just to make this clear, I'm aware that once the shutdown is resolved all the money not being spent now will be disbursed. (Assuming that Congress approves back pay for furloughed workers, which I'm not sure I'd bet on.) But that's only after the shutdown is resolved. In the meantime, we're no longer barreling toward a breach of the debt ceiling, are we?

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