What the debt crisis means for you

July 30, 2011 (WASHINGTON)

Let's start with the worst case scenario, that Congress is unable to come up with a deal and America can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

This would be uncharted territory but here's what it could mean: The stock market swoons, diminishing the value of your 401Ks and IRAS. The government stops sending out checks to soldiers, civil servants and those who depend on social security.

But many observers say the worst case is unlikely, so let's look at the best case: If politicians cut a deal, it could actually boost people's confidence in the economy, sending stocks higher and prompting companies to hire.

Even if there is a deal, however, America could have its credit rating downgraded. That means the interest rates on your mortgage and credit cards might go up slightly.

So this debt debacle could end up hurting all of us even if the politicians are able to beat the clock.

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