Local concerns loom about Debt Ceiling deadline

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Is it a scare tactic?  Or, if Congress doesn't meet the deadline for raising the debt ceiling, will social security checks and other programs people depend upon for survival be in jeopardy.

Locally many people get upset when they hear talk of Social Security checks not going out or being delayed or similar measures. Most people are disgusted when they hear that. They feel like it's just scare tactics and politics and that there's no way they would withhold checks upon which seniors and others on fixed incomes depend.

At the senior center on Fifth Street, the men are playing pool as usual. All here depend on Social Security to pay the bills. Michael Richard says, "If I don't get my checks, I can't pay my bills nor can I eat because I depend totally on my social security disability."  Marshall Menard is 82 years old.  "I can do without one for about two months. Then I'll have to start crying like the rest of the people."

And for the most part, they expect pay day as usual.  They consider it scare tactics when they hear talk that the checks might not come. Richard and Menard want to see a compromise. Admits Richard, "I'm not in the office, so I don't know what kind of solution we can to compromise. But the president knows a compromise. Why not work with him?"

Menard figures it will all work out. "I don't think they're going to shut down the government. They usually agree at the last minute, these politicians. That's what they're up there for, to argue."

Chateau du Lac is another place where just about everybody depends on a government check. "I think they're trying to scare people and I think they shouldn't stop the checks because what about the senior citizens? What will they be able to do?" asks Linda Dantley.

Ameriprise investment advisor Reed Mendelson points out if they don't reach a deal by Tuesday the government will still have sixty per cent of the money they usually have. "The discretion on how do the remaining funds get spent falls on the president. To imagine that he would not pay the principal and interest on our debt, social security recipients and pay for our national security would be just hard to imagine," said Mendelson.

But Mendelson says some bills would not get paid. "Certainly they've got contractors and they have employees that won't get paid and things of that sort."

And Congressman Boustany's field representative in Lake Charles Joe Hill also expects Social Security payments to be made as usual, "Now there's nothing on the books that says they have to be prioritized. That would be something the president would have to say. But the congressman is certainly understanding of this issue and is fighting to make sure that the seniors who've paid into this program all their working lives should receive their checks on time."

So if the debt ceiling isn't raised-- some bills and some people probably won't get paid. But most people seem to think Social Security recipients and the most frail in our society will be okay.

You can hear more of our interview with Reed Mendelson by clicking here.

This morning Congressman Jeff Landry announced a coalition of conservative patriots pressured House leadership to add passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Budget control Act of 2011.  Landry says, "By standing firm, we were able to get a bill that actually cuts federal spending now, caps future spending, and ensures a Balanced Budget Amendment passes Congress before the second increase is enacted..."  He says, "A balanced budget amendment will finally force Congress to live within its means just like families across the country do."

Congressman Charles Boustany spoke before congress. To hear his comments, click here.

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