Despite High-Level Guarantees, Time Is Running Out to Avoid a Default

Senator Mitch McConnell had a message for Americans growing increasingly worried that the economy is going to crash if the federal debt ceiling is not raised: Just chill.“Look, I think everybody needs to relax,” Mr.McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader with deep experience in debt limit showdowns, told reporters back home earlier this week.

“Regardless of what may be said about the talks on a day-to-day basis, the president and the speaker will reach an agreement.It will ultimately pass on a bipartisan vote in both the House and the Senate.

The country will not default.”That may be a case of easier said than done.While Mr.

McConnell, President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy have repeatedly assured Americans that there will be no default, that guarantee is looking a little shakier with little more than a week to go before the U.S.Treasury is projected to run out of cash to pay its obligations.Even if negotiators agree to a deal soon — an outcome that appeared within reach but still had not materialized as talks continued on Friday — there is still much to be done, not the least of which is winning approval in the House and Senate.

That outcome is nowhere near certain given rising uneasiness — and some outright opposition — on both the right and left.At this point, no one can be absolutely certain that the United States won’t tumble over the default cliff, even if no one involved wants that to happen.

Time is short.“No one can guarantee there won’t be a default, if for no other reason than the clock is ticking down here pretty quickly,” said G.William Hoagland, a longtime Republican budget guru on Capitol Hill who is now a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“We are on thin ice in a big way.”Negotiators got some breathing room Friday afternoon with the Treasury secretary’s announcement that the default deadline had moved four days later, to June 5.But Congress will still be hard-pressed to act ...

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Publisher: The New York Times

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