Now, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned Congress tomorrow, the 17th of October, is the day the government will likely have only about $30 billion on hand, which sounds like a lot. But sometimes, daily expenditures get a lot higher than that. This does not mean the government will default tomorrow if Congress does not act. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, the U.S. could manage to get through the next few days. But without a deal, the threat of default rises sharply next week.
This could be the last day the United States is assured of its borrowing authority. Congress could forestall this crisis by raising the debt ceiling, as it has roughly a hundred times before. But the debt ceiling is tied to the same confrontation that's kept much of the federal government shut down.
The possibility of an American default on its debt is huge news across the continent. Europe is barely emerging from its own debt crisis. Europe's recovery rests on demand for its exports and the U.S. is by far the European Union's largest export market.
Irene Adams cooks supper for husband, Luke, and 2-year-old son, Cole, at their home in Fayetteville, Ark. She used to serve lots of green beans, but switched to edamame after tasting it at a local restaurant.
"[Cole] used to split his green beans and take out the little seeds inside," Adams says. "So I told Luke we should try edamame, because it's bigger seeds and has more flavor, so that's why we decided to try it and he loves it."
The record-breaking wildfire in Yosemite National Park is almost fully contained, two months after it started. The blaze calls attention to a problem across the western U.S.: After a century of having its fires routinely extinguished, the forests are overloaded with fuel.
A heated debate has flared up about what to do with that forest fuel. California is hoping to reduce its fire risk through renewable energy, but some worry about the environmental costs of thinning the forests.
Many governments around the world have expressed outrage over the National Security Agency's use of the Internet as a spying platform. But the possible response may have an unforeseen consequence: It may actually lead to more online surveillance, according to Internet experts.
Some governments, led most recently by Brazil, have reacted to recent disclosures about NSA surveillance by proposing a redesign of Internet architecture. The goal would be to give governments more control over how the Internet operates within their own borders.
IRS offices around the country, like this one in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been closed since the partial government shutdown began two weeks ago. While the agency continues to cash checks from payees, refunds, audits and most other operations are suspended.
Tuesday, Oct. 15,is the filing deadline for the roughly 12 million Americans who received an extension on their 2012 taxes. And having 90 percent of its staff furloughed in the partial government shutdown doesn't mean the IRS doesn't want your money.
"The IRS is shut down, but the tax law is never shut down," says Joshua Blank, professor of tax practice and faculty director of New York University Law School's Graduate Tax Program.