The US Treasury has been holding the country right at the legal debt limit for the past 56 days using "extraordinary measures" and expects to be able to continue until Labor Day. Just remember: hitting the limit doesn't mean we'll default on our debts because debt repayment takes priority over other spending. If the extraordinary measures are exhausted and we hit the debt limit for real, we'll keep making payments on our debt but have to immediately cut spending in other areas. There is no way that America can default on its debt payments at this time, whether the debt limit is raised or not.
On May 18, the day after the debt began its long stay at $16,699,396,000,000.00, Treasury Secretary Lew sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lew said the Treasury would begin implementing what he called "the standard set of extraordinary measures" that allows the Treasury to continue to borrow and spend money even after it has hit the legal debt limit.
How many days did Lew think he could keep the debt just under the debt limit while the Treasury continued to borrow money?
"The effective duration of the extraordinary measures is subject to considerable uncertainty due to a variety of factors, including the unpredictability of tax receipts, changes in expenditure flows under the sequester, and the normal challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future."
Lew went on to say, however, that "it is now clear that the measures will not be exhausted until after Labor Day."