Debt showdown could affect Hawaii's Social Security checks

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The stalemate over the nation's debt limit could affect roughly 70 million checks sent to veterans, the disabled and senior citizens. The news worried seniors at the Kapahulu Center. They're among the roughly 220,000 Hawaii recipients who depend on Social Security.

"It will make it really difficult because that pays my medical insurance also," said 80-year-old Toshiyuki Watabayashi.

President Obama warned in a CBS interview that the next round of payments could be in jeopardy.

"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," explained the president.

Both parties agree that spending needs to be cut as the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling is raised. Democrats want the deal to include closing some tax loopholes that help large companies and wealthy Americans, but Republicans oppose the idea and say it's the same as raising taxes.

"Where's the president's plan?," questioned House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "This debt limit increase is his problem, and I think it's time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table."

The president said he is willing to reform Medicare and other entitlement programs, but democratic women lawmakers are refusing reductions. AARP Hawaii is also against any cuts.

"We are adamantly against cutting Social Security as part of a deal to pay the nation's bills. We have equal concern for Medicare benefits as well," said Bruce Bottorff of AARP Hawaii.

The Senate's top Republican unveiled what he called a backup plan to avoid a government default. The proposal would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling in three increments during the next 18 months, and essentially puts off any discussion of spending cuts.

"As this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is probably unattainable," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Meanwhile, those caught in the crossfire are waiting for the outcome of the negotiations.

"Some people have nothing else but the Social Security. I think they should find another way," said Social Security recipient Pat Mau.

The debt discussion is set to continue at the White House on Thursday. The government default deadline is August 2.

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