President Barack Obama told reporters yesterday that the United States does not risk default on its debts because its government cannot put politics aside. Today, the president warned that, if Congress and the administration cannot come to terms on the deficit, about 70 million Americans won’t get their August 3 Social Security checks, disability payments or veterans benefits.
Californians may remember the federal budget crisis of 1996. A lack of funding forced the Social Security Administration to lay off employees. The agency delayed processing benefit applications and sending out claim payments. Local offices were so short-handed that phones went unanswered. In the end, the SSA asked for funding to recall the furloughed workers.
Republican leadership claims the president has offered no real solution to the deficit conundrum. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader, characterized Mr. Obama’s proposals as “smoke and mirrors, tax hikes or default.” While the Republicans would like to cut trillions of dollars from the federal budget, Mr. McConnell said the party would “do the responsible thing” and avoid default.
For his part, the president is pushing for a “balanced approach” that would involve cutting spending and raising taxes. He said this week he hopes for a deal that will last through the 2012 elections. He stated he would not agree to a short-term — 30- or 60- or 90-day — extension.
Many economists agree with the president that the debt ceiling must be raised by August 2 if the U.S. is to avoid economic catastrophe.
Almost 5 million Californians receive some kind of Social Security benefit.
Source: CBSNews.com, “Obama says he cannot guarantee Social Security checks will go out on August 3,” 07/12/2011