Thursday, July 21, 2011

Obama warns Social Security checks might not be sent Aug. 3

President Obama upped the ante in the ongoing debt-ceiling debate Tuesday, telling CBS News that without raising the ceiling, he can't guarantee that Social Security checks will be sent Aug. 3.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3 if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to speak on the interview, which is set to air Tuesday night, but he agreed that if the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the ceiling isn't met, "we can't guarantee if there were a default that any specific bill would be paid."

The Treasury Department has said that lawmakers must raise the debt ceiling by that date to avoid a default.

Carney warned again that Aug. 2 is a "hard and fast and real deadline," saying that even though the talks appear to have gone off the rails, "we're in the 'matter of days' phase of these negotiations."
Obama told CBS that more than just Social Security payouts would be endangered if no deal could be reached.

"These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks," the president said. "There are about 70 million checks that go out."

The White House is pushing hard for a deal that would give Congress time to craft and pass legislation in time to avoid default. But developments this week have illustrated just how far apart the two parties are.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers are scheduled to return to the White House Tuesday afternoon for more talks.

Carney also rejected the idea put forth by Republicans that the debt ceiling is not their problem.
"It is not a Democratic problem. It is not a Republican problem," Carney said. "It is an American problem, and it is something we have to do together.

"The president doesn't have a vote in this. Congress has to act."

Last week President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated that if the Debt Ceiling was not passed by August 2ndthat Social Security checks may not be issued.  Republicans quickly responded that both Obama and Reid were using “scare tactics” to try to put pressure on the ongoing negotiations in Congress.

Last year’s Debt Ceiling Committee co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Senator, Alan Simpson, recommended increase revenue sources (taxes) along with adjustment to several of the entitlement programs.  The committee’s recommendation involved raising the Social Security retirement age, cuts to Medicare and curtailment of tax breaks to the wealthy and big business and the doubling of the federal tax on gasoline.  This is different because the impact of the non payment of Social Security benefits would be immediate and harm many people in the middle and at lower income levels.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics of 2010, San Diegohas a population of 3,095,313 in the County.  In basic numbers from the Census data 11.4% of the county’s population are 65 or older, totaling about 352,866 people who are either already on Social Security benefit dole or at least qualify for Social Security and Medicare.  On top of the number of people on standard Social Security retirement benefits, there are about 33,400 others in the county who receive Social Security Supplemental funds.  Average Social Security benefits are about $1,100 a month, or about $13,000 a year.

The number of people in the county who live in poverty approximately 386,914 residents live below the $21K poverty level, many of whom are Social Security benefit recipients.

The San Diegans who are Social Security benefit recipients and rely on the benefit for the bulk of their income are obviously the part of the local population that would be hurt most if benefits are not paid if the debt ceiling resolution leads to the non payment of benefits.

The other potential loser would be the county itself because if benefits were not paid to San Diegans, $423,625,000 would be taken out of circulation in the county.  Now the odds of the U.S. government withholding payments for the year are of course is a stretch, however, the numbers presented give a sign of just how much is at stake.

The pawn use in the political haranguing in Washington D.C. not only includes Social Security recipients, but veterans, along with a myriad of other government programs that would be halted if the debt ceiling limit is not raised by August 2, 2011.

The possibility of delaying the payment of Social Security benefits, SSI payments, Medicare, Medicaid and such is almost nil…however still a possibility.

The political nightmare that would result from any delay in payments to this group would impact the political careers of many of these political hacks in next year’s elections.  They are not that stupid…well maybe some of them aren’t that stupid.

So stand up stretch yourself, look in the mirror and smile at yourself, the chances are on your side if you expect to receive your Social Security check next month.

“They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it’s some kind of federal program.”  George W. Bush, former Republican president of the U.S.

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