Indeed, unless Congress suspends or increases the debt ceiling in the coming weeks, the federal government will no longer be able to borrow to pay for its operations, forcing it to limit its spending.
What this would mean for Americans remains uncertain as Congress has intervened to increase, extend or revise the definition of the debt limit in the past.
These benefits could be affected
The Treasury Department could still pay some of its bills because it would still have tax revenue, but it is unclear what it would decide to pay and when, experts said.
“Almost everyone is likely to be affected in one way or another,” said Paul Van de Water, Center-Left senior researcher on budget and policy priorities.
Among them would be Social Security beneficiaries, who would be at risk of not receiving their payments for the first time since the program was created in 1935, said Max Richtman, CEO of the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and the ‘Health Insurance. They are expected to receive $ 90 billion in payments in October.
Some 40% of beneficiaries depend on monthly checks for at least 90% of their income, and two-thirds of beneficiaries depend on infusions for at least half of their income, he said.
âNot having a check for a few weeks or a month is devastating,â Richtman said. âThe beneficiaries will have to decide: do I pay my rent? Do I buy food? Do I buy my medication?
Meanwhile, more than 42.3 million Americans who receive food stamps could be left waiting for their monthly benefits – an average of $ 227 per person.
What the White House says
The White House exposed the consequences of a default last week, listing six key areas where federal funding to state and local governments could be delayed.
- Tens of billions of dollars in disaster assistance annually to states and communities facing forest fires, floods and other natural disasters.
- Over half a trillion dollars for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers 1 in 5 Americans.
- More than $ 30 billion for nutrition assistance for children’s school meals, which serve 30 million children, as well as the Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) program and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps are officially known.
- About $ 100 billion in infrastructure funds for transit, highway and airport projects.
- Over $ 50 billion in education money for Head Start, special education and other school programs.
- Over $ 10 billion for public health programs.
Other Americans could also be affected, Van de Water said. Military service members may not receive their paychecks on time, and an estimated 6 million veterans and their survivors could have their benefits suspended.
âVirtually every payment could experience some sort of delay or reduction,â he said.