Aw, heck, pick a year, any year: the Feds have been circling the bowl of paper insolvency off and on for just about my entire life and to add injury to insult, it's unlikely that the Feds have had enough money to pay their debts at any time, if you suddenly called "olley-olley-oxen-free" and all parties had to settle up on the spot.
So when the President climbs up inside my TV and makes long faces about the debt -- and combative ones about takin' it to the brink -- or when his opponents dish up sanctimonious sound-bite snippets about how they would never, ever, ever raise taxes* -- all I can do is laugh, because whoever wins, we'll lose: you, me, the guy gliding by in the Hummer limo and the bum dozing in the bushes, we all lose.
They're gonna go back and forth however many rounds; they'll puff up and they may even "bring the Federal Government to a standstill," though not their paychecks, air-conditioning or in-house diner; none of the present 3.5 wars will stand down and you can depend on the FBI, DEA and bATFe will all be at the same old stand during the "standstill," still employing mother-shooters, rousting California cancer patients and sneaking guns across borders. (What I wanna know about the last-named Bureau is, do they smuggle smokes and booze, too?) Count on IRS still being in their counting-house, too; in short, none of FedGov functions that pick your pocket or break your leg (or the other guy's) will shut down; nope, they'll turn out the lights on some highly-visible widows-and-orphans stuff, then go on TV and sob about how their opposite number(s) in the Legislative or Executive branch just don't care about decent, hardworkin' 'Murricans and/or balancing the Federal budget.
Eventually, they'll "compromise:" make token cuts to a costly feelgood program like MediCare and raise taxes a bit; they'll each blame the other side for the bit that smells worse to their core, you and I will will get socked with the bill, and the Federal budget will go right on running a deficit.
If any individual or business tried to run with a negative balance all the time, it would be fraud. When the FedGov does it, after putting on a medicine show to sell us on their patent snake-oil, hiding the fact that it's only degrees of insolvency under discussion (as opposed to, you know, not spending more than they take in from us poor marks), why, it's got tradition and "the great workings of Our Gummiement" all over it, and we're supposed to obediently pick sides and spat with those who back the other team.
Bedammed if I will. The Emperor and all his court is naked -- and bankrupt. Shut 'er down, Mr. Obama, Mr. Boehner; sell off what you can and shut 'er down. We'll have to run on State governments while we figure out what to do next.
(Don't hold your breath waiting on that -- but don't get sucked into the budgetary pantomime, either. No matter what they do, you will end up worse off when it is resolved).
*The call-and-response then has The Prez intoning that "the rich" should pay "their fair share," to which I have to point out that in terms of using Fed-provided and/or funded in whole or part from Washington City goods and services, is it the wealthy or the poor who make most use of 'em; and if it's the poor who use 'em most and the rich who use 'em least, what's "fair share" even mean in this context?
5 weeks ago