Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has set a deadline for Congress to act on lifting the debt ceiling: October 18. At that point, she will have exhausted all the available measures to shuffle money around to pay the bills. Which, again, is what the debt ceiling is about—paying the accrued bills for borrowed money already spent. On Tuesday, Yellen told CNBC that this isn't a game, however much the traditional media tries to pretend it's all just partisan squabbling.
"It would be catastrophic to not pay the government's bills, for us to be in a position where we lacked the resources to pay the government's bills," Yellen said in the CNBC interview. "I fully expect it would cause a recession as well."