But, to be sure, Matthews said he doesn't know if a deal will get done on time, and if it doesn't the reliability factor will then be gone.
Now, I know there are many consequences to a potential default besides reliability. Eighty million people get checks each month from the federal government. There's a huge number of different kinds of payments. Nobody knows how to prioritize, and that has been and remains Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's point as he testifies before Congress. You can't really just prioritize paying interest, because Treasuries doesn't pay out just interest. They pay out interest and principal the way you pay a mortgage, and it's difficult to separate the streams. So that whole argument's a bit of a non-starter.
So checks to contractors, to doctors, to veterans and so Social Security will most likely be delayed, not paid, until this is resolved. I think that's catastrophic on the face of it. No amount of prudence about future deficits would ever be able to make up for the chaos that delayed payments would cause -- and, make no mistake about it: Come November, everything will be delayed.
Chris waxed nostalgic for the days when House Speaker Tip O'Neill and former President Ronald Reagan, polar opposites, got things done -- which is the subject of his new book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. It's is a terrific read, like all of his books are (and I don't just read them because Chris went to the school that was at the end of my block and we are both huge Philadelphia sports fans). He talks about how these two old pols, who were not friends but dueling opponents, had respect for each other and tackled the toughest issues, including a monumental deal to save the solvency of Social Security. That's unimaginable now.But Chris did see the path, and he said we need to stay close to everything that goes on in the Senate. That's where the movement will be if there is to be movement, so don't give up hope for a deal if the White House's meeting with the House leadership produces more rancor this afternoon. But if there isn't a deal by next Wednesday then, from my perch, a month from now it looks like the real checks really won't be in the mail. At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, had no positions in the securities mentioned. Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 7:45 a.m. EDT on Real Money on Oct. 10.
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