WASHINGTON (AP) — The debt crisis has brought the government to the "kitchen table" to do something that hard-pressed families do routinely, which is tear their hair out over how to pay the bills.Pawn the family jewelry? Emptying gold reserves at Fort Knox and other repositories could raise a very handy $400 billion.
Sell the property that has been in the family for generations? Yosemite National Park would fetch a pretty penny.
At least so far, such last-gasp ideas are not in serious play at Washington's kitchen table. But as the Aug. 2 deadline approaches for raising the country's borrowing limit, you can bet someone in the government is thinking about them. Economists are.
"The consequences of America defaulting on its debt are so unthinkable, catastrophic and costly that we should consider anything," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at the Martin Smith College of Business at California State University. "Sell gold, sell oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, do ANYTHING to avoid a default."
In short, the nation is like a family that's overextended and close to wits' end.
To carry on without going deeper in debt, this family would have to cut its monthly bills by 70 percent or get a huge pay increase at work, enough to raise their income by nearly two-thirds. Now.
Then they could scrape by without borrowing more, at least for a little while.