As the two factions in the nation's capital spin their takes on what happens if a new debt-ceiling accord is not reached by Thursday, Oct. 17, the rarely mentioned facts behind the battle show that there's enough money in the coffers to keep running the government until the end of the month, according to CNBC and other reports.

What will happen on Thursday is that the Treasury Department will have exhausted all its accounting tricks to keep borrowing. In truth, the debt ceiling was pierced months ago and never raised by Congress.

According to Capital Economics, as reported by CNBC, this year the U.S. government is spending on average $13.3 billion a day; tax revenues have averaged $10.8 billion a day. The $2.5-billion daily shortfall is made up by selling Treasury bonds (see above, the gimmicks being used to sell these run dry on Oct. 17).

With about $36.5 billion in cash reserves, the U.S. can leverage its tax receipts against those reserves and manage nicely for about 14 days, give or take a few. The big crunch comes Oct. 31 when an interest payment of $6 billion on outstanding Treasury bonds comes due. The next day, checks for about $57 billion need to be issued to cover Social Security, Medicare, the military and miscellaneous income support payments. That's when things could get real iffy.

Does Las Vegas have an over/under on when Congress will raise the debt ceiling?