SEATTLE (CBS Seattle/AP) — Ten of America’s billionaires’ net worth would be more than the cash the U.S. has on hand if Congress cannot reach a resolution to raise the debt ceiling.

In a recent letter to congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew wrote that the federal government would have about $30 billion in cash on hand if the borrowing limit is not raised by Oct. 17.

“If we have insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history,” he said in the letter, according to CBS News.

If the debt ceiling does not rise, the net worth of 10 of America’s billionaires on Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans List would amount to more money than the federal government would have at its disposal.

The list includes Bill Gates at $72 billion, Warren Buffett at $58.5 billion, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison at $41 billion, Charles and David Koch at $36 billion, Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton at $35.4 billion, Arvest Bank Group CEO Jim Walton at $33.8 billion, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton at $33.5 billion, Wal-Mart chairman S. Robson Walton at $33.3 billion and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at $31 billion.

Buffett, a renowned investor who leads the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, said Wednesday it would be idiocy for the nation’s leaders to allow the United States to default on its bills.

During an appearance on CNBC on Wednesday, Buffett said he thinks it would be absurd for American politicians to do anything to damage the country’s reputation for paying its bills that has been established over the past 237 years.

“I don’t think it will happen, but if it does happen, it’s a pure act of idiocy,” Buffett said about the possibility of default.

Congressional leaders were still working Wednesday morning on a deal to end the partial government shutdown and prevent default. Buffett said both political parties should agree not to use the debt limit as a bargaining chip in the future because it is “a political weapon of mass destruction.”

Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are optimistic a deal can get done to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown after the GOP-controlled House failed to reach an agreement.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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