The Debt Ceiling Is Suddenly Only 8 Weeks Away

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Remember that debt limit donnybrook we were all expecting this December? Turns out everyone was being a wee bit too optimistic about that:

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress on Monday that after mid-October, the government would be able to make payments “with only the cash we have on hand on any given day.” In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), Mr. Lew projected the Treasury would have roughly $50 billion on hand by mid-October, and said this level “would be insufficient to cover net expenditures for an extended period of time.”

Mr. Lew also said that “on certain days, net expenditures could exceed such a cash balance,” which might mean the government couldn’t pay all its bills.

….The mid-October time frame is sooner than many on Capitol Hill had anticipated….Some believed that the government’s improving fiscal condition, bolstered by rising tax revenue and money coming in from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, could give the Treasury even more time, potentially until sometime in December.

Politically, this means that Republicans don’t really have the option of quickly passing a 2014 budget (or a short-term continuing resolution) and then taking some time off to plan for their latest round of debt ceiling hostage-taking at the end of the year. If mid-October really is the drop-dead date, it means that budget negotiations in late September and debt ceiling negotiations in early October pretty much run right into each other. It’s Fiscal Cliff v2.0.

I don’t quite know what this does to John Boehner’s fragile attempts to keep the lunatic wing of his party under control. Nothing good, probably. I’m also not sure what it does to President Obama’s promise not to negotiate over the debt ceiling. If all of this stuff get munged together, then everyone’s going to get mighty hazy mighty fast about what exactly is being negotiated.

So that’s that. Hazy is the new outlook. Stay tuned.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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