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AOC is right: GOP is holding our economy, Social Security and Medicare HOSTAGE
Funding will end June 1
Trump loving GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz stated point blank that he and other Republican view President Biden as a “hostage” in the debt ceiling talks. The Florida Republican stated earlier this week, as “My conservative colleagues for the most part…don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.”
But as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez perfectly put in in response, the “hostage” the GOP is holding is neither Biden nor the Democrats: It’s the American economy. AOC stated powerfully, “I want to be clear about what the Republican Party is taking hostage. It is not Democrats. It is the entire U.S. economy.”
The New York Rep added, “To hold the entire U.S. economy hostage, particularly if the Republican evaluation is a cynical one, saying ‘if we tank the economy, we’ll expect people to blame the president,’ is reckless, it’s irresponsible.” AOC continued on to note something that needs to be amplified: A default would also suspend funding for programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
That is 100% correct. This is not like past budget disputes that have lead to to government shutdown yet payments for federal programs continued. If the debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury Dept will be barred from making any payments above that amount. None. Zero.
Sectary of Treasury Janet Yellin reiterated Monday in a letter to Congressional leaders that this deadline is almost here, “Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1.”
A default will cause widespread economic pain-from layoffs to stock market crashes. As I wrote in article earlier this week, experts note that, “Working class Americans would be hurt the most by layoffs and the expected spikes in interest rates for credit cards, car loans and mortgages.” MAGA knows this which is why even President Biden warned that some of them want to cause such economic calamity because they believe it hurts him politically in 2024 and helps return their beloved Donald Trump to the White House.
But I want to layout the exact dates certain key payments are scheduled to be made by the federal government for programs from Social Security to Medicare to veteran’s benefits. My hope is that this provides a more concrete sense of what won’t be paid if we reach the June 1 deadline and the GOP is still holding our economy hostage.
The following information is from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think-tank co-created 15 years ago by a group of former Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators to advocate for bipartisan solutions in Washington, D.C. The organization laid out the dates that payments are to be made for federal programs that impact millions. (The June federal payout calendar they created is below)
Here are some of those key dates and programs affected by a GOP default:
June 1 MEDICARE: On that date about $47 billion in payments for Medicare services is scheduled to be made to doctors and hospitals. Since Medicare funds about a fifth of U.S. healthcare, some doctors might not have money to pay staff and other bills without these funds. In addition, hard decisions would have to be made on scheduling surgeries and other procedures if there are no guaranteed funds to pay for them. As Tricia Neuman, a health policy expert at the KFF research group told Reuters about a possible default’s impact on Medicare: "The longer this goes on, the more disruptive it could be." That means if this default drags out, it will have a very real impact on the health of the 63 million Americans who rely on Medicare.
June 1 VETERANS’ BENEFITS: About $12 billion is scheduled to be paid toward federal veteran’s benefits--while billions more scheduled to be paid that day in military retirement funds.
June 2 SOCIAL SECURITY: That is the day that about a quarter of the nation’s Social Security recipients—or nearly 17 million Americans- could find that their Social Security payments were not deposited. These payments for retired Americans represent about 30 percent of their total income. And for the nearly 10 million younger Americans receiving benefits because they are disabled, these checks may represent an even more vital revenue source. Each week the default continues, another 17 million Americans will not see Social Security benefits.
MEDICAID: Every single day payments are scheduled to be made for the 84 million Americans who rely on this program -including 32 million children—for primary and acute medical services as well as long-term services.
June 2- Payments could stop going out to government contractors, including $1 billion due to defense contractors.
June 7 - $1 billion in tax refunds scheduled to be paid.
June 9 - $4 billion in salaries could go unpaid for parts of the 2-million-person federal workforce plus schools expecting $1 billion in federal funding could have to do without.
June 12: $1 billion in SNAP (formerly known as Food stamps) benefits would not be paid. This is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. SNAP helps nearly 1 in 4 children in the United States afford an adequate diet. Nearly two-thirds of SNAP benefits go to families with children.
June 15: $4 billion in military salaries.
This is just a fraction of what Secretary of Treasury Yellen explained is the on average “millions of payments” made each day by the Treasury.
I don’t want scare people who depend on Social Security, Medicare or any program by making you believe on Day 1 of a default your benefits will be impacted. But if a default occurs and a standoff lasts as long as the 2019 government shutdown of 35 days, the pain will be very real.
Plus please ignore Republicans who want you think Social Security and Medicare will be prioritized if they cause a default. Treasury Secretary Yellen has made it clear there is no contingency for prioritizing payments given, “our systems are built to pay all of our bills on time and not to pick and choose which bills to pay.” She added, “It would be an exceptionally risky, untested and radical departure from normal payment practices of agencies across the federal government.”
In fact as CNN reported, when a debt ceiling default almost occurred in 2011, the highest priorities were NOT programs that helped Americans but paying interest and principal on Treasury securities, according to a transcript of a Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee call during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis.
My hope is that President Biden—who is a very effective communicator—will start sharing this potential real-world impact with the American public—date by date, program by program. Biden is in the perfect position to make it clear that he is the guardian of our economy-as well as Social Security, Medicare and these other programs-from the GOP’s recklessness and extremism.
The GOP sought to take our democracy hostage with Trump’s failed attempted coup and Jan 6 attack. We can’t allow them to do the same to our economy.
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