Regardless of whether the U.S. government shuts down non-essential services at midnight, we're likely to face another type of budget crisis in just a few weeks—the confrontation over the debt ceiling.
House Republicans have said that they will not agree to lift the debt ceiling unless the White House compromises with them on the implementation of President Barack Obama's healthcare law.
The White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have said they won't negotiate over the debt ceiling.
We actually hit the debt ceiling earlier this year.
The government is no longer accumulating additional external debt. It has been able to fund its ongoing spending obligations through "extraordinary" measures. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, however, has said that the government's flexibility to continue to fund itself without additional debt will end around Oct. 17.
One of the big fears is that hitting the hard stop could mean that the U.S. government would be forced to default on debt payments. The president has warned of this consequence by saying the Congress threat not to lift the debt ceiling puts the creditworthiness of the U.S. at risk.
This, however, is an oversimplification.
There are many alternatives to missing debt payments, most of which are within the control of the president. If we do default on the debt, it will mean that the president himself chose to take this path. No one can force it upon him.