America has briefly not been able to pay its bills on two occasions. The first time was when the White House and Capital were burned during the war of 1812. The second time was in 1979 when a back-office glitch ended up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. That was also blamed on bickering lawmakers who couldn’t agree on a backlog of paperwork. In 1979, it was lawmakers determined to attach a strong balanced budget amendment to the bill the caused the shutdown. They finally relented, the day before Social Security checks were expected to start bouncing.
Congress is still locked in a heated debate that could torch that economy, but at least Washington isn’t literally on fire.