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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 8th, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Experts: Don't mess with the debt limit

If lawmakers do not vote to raise the debt ceiling in less than ten days, the U.S. will run out of cash to pay its bills, including interest it already owes debt holders. But some Republicans are arguing that the October 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling is exaggerated.

Economists disagree.

"Failure to raise the debt ceiling leads to very bad economic outcomes, and chaos in the financial markets. The (Treasury Department) may or may not be able to prioritize interest payments, pay them first. Most people say they can't, and you can't put the software in place n time," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office director, now president of American Action Forum.

"Past that, the politics are ugly. We'll pay the Chinese, but we won't pay our senior citizens social security, and the confidence effects are horrible. If an international lender looks at a country and says you know, you can make interest payments, but you're not paying for your highway bills or social security or Medicare, they're not going to lend you more money. Interest rates will go up," said Holtz-Eakin.

Failing to raise the debt ceiling "is something that I think is extremely dangerous. Shutdown never historically has been a big deal. Messing with the debt limit is something I don't want to try," said Holtz-Eakin.

Senior adviser in the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration Matt Miller agrees.

Defaulting on the nation's debt obligations "would mean a dramatic cut in the rest of the government, which would throw us into a major recession or worse," said Miller, who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

"The idea that we would even be talking about this is nuts," said Miller.

But the economist hinted that part of this is President Barack Obama's fault.

"Republicans learned from 2011 that Obama, when he caved in 2011, could be pushed to the edge and would cut a deal. And that's why I'm worried that we're really going to be in real peril in the next ten days," said Miller.

For more of our interview with economists Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Matt Miller, watch the video above.

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