Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Republicans aren't working fast enough to extend the debt limit—and the consequences of inaction are dire.
"If you look at the calm out there, which I think is a bit greater than it should be, there's a sense that 2011 was a terrible experience and nobody would do that again," Lew said Tuesday at the Bloomberg Markets 50 conference in New York. "People have to take seriously the fact that Congress has a lot of work to do in a short period of time and the consequences of their failure are very substantial."
Lew also said the U.S. is almost out of money, and said in a letter to Congress Wednesday that Oct. 17 is the likely deadline when "extraordinary measures" will run out.
"It will be the middle of October when we are left with just cash--no more ability to go out and borrow unless Congress acts," Lew said at the conference.
He noted the amount of cash would be about $30 billion—less than a day's worth of expenditures. He had previously indicated there would be at least $50 billion.