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The risk of a U.S. default: By the numbers
If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will have to make some very tough choices
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a conference in Washington, D.C. in June: Without an increase to the $14.3 trillion debt limit, Geithner will have some tough choices to make in August.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a conference in Washington, D.C. in June: Without an increase to the $14.3 trillion debt limit, Geithner will have some tough choices to make in August.
REUTERS/Larry Downing
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t's all coming down to the wire. If Congress and President Obama don't reach a deal to raise the U.S. debt limit by early August, the government won't be able to honor all of its financial obligations. The nation's savings account would be essentially empty, and without the authority to borrow, Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would have to choose which bills to pay from incoming tax revenue — and which bills and obligations to ignore. "You can move the chess pieces around all you want," says Jay Powell of the Bipartisan Policy Center, but "you're going to lose." How much? Here, a look at some numbers underpinning the debate:

$14.294 trillion
Current debt ceiling, reached May 16. Geithner has moved money around so the feds can continue paying the bills through Aug. 2, even though the nation's legal borrowing limit has already been reached.

80 million
Number of payments U.S. makes every month

$306.7 billion
Amount the U.S. is obligated to pay from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$172.4 billion
Amount of revenue the U.S will bring in from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

44
Percentage of those August payments that would have to be immediately scrapped if no deal is reached

$29 billion
Interest payments on Treasury securities due to investors on Aug. 15

$49.2 billion
Social Security benefits to be paid from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$50 billion
Medicare and Medicaid benefits to be paid from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$31.7 billion
Payments to defense contractors due from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$12.8 billion
Unemployment benefits to be paid from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$2.9 billion
Active-duty military pay due from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$2.9 billion
Veterans Affairs program payments due from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$14.2 billion
Federal salaries and benefits due from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31

$12 billion
U.S. tax income expected to be received on Aug. 3

$32 billion
U.S. spending planned for Aug. 3 (including $23 billion in Social Security checks)

50
Standard & Poor's stated odds, in percent, that it will lower the U.S. credit rating within 90 days

7,000
Number of top-rated municipal bonds Moody's will automatically downgrade without a debt-ceiling deal

$130 billion
Amount of municipal debt affected by the Moody's ultimatum

74
Number of times the debt ceiling has been raised since 1962

10
Number of times the debt ceiling has been raised since 2001

Sources: Bipartisan Policy Center (2, PDF), Bloomberg, CNNMoney (2), Washington Post (2)

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