BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. Former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi and Ossining Town Councilman Peter Tripodi have criticized the national government for its debt ceiling crisis, calling the government "dysfunctional" and "scary."
"No matter what they do with the debt ceiling, we have shown that we do not know how to spend money responsibly...We're totally locked into a political process that doesn't work," DioGuardi said Wednesday evening at a political fundraiser for Tripodi, who is running for town supervisor.
The fundraiser was held at The Briar's Restaurant on North State Road.
Councilman Tripodi said the national crisis is revealing that Social Security money is being paid out of borrowed money when it should be coming from a trust fund.
"I pay into Social Security, as does everyone else, and the fact that it's not in a trust fund is the thing that strikes me as scary about the situation," he said.
A non-partisan website run by the St. Petersburg Times, Politifact.com, is dedicated to sorting out truths and half-truths floating around politics. It has written extensively on the various ways a debt crisis could affect everyday people. The website gave some credence to the idea that Social Security checks could not go out on time, or more precisely, that they would be in a long line of debts the government must pay. If the debt ceiling isn't raised, the government would essentially run out of cash.
The government could reasonably prioritize payments to seniors, according to Politifact.com, but "doing so would likely cause a lot of collateral damage to other American creditors, federal workers, students, Pentagon vendors and countless others -- and could also hamper the broader economy at a particularly sensitive time."
For example, the federal government's debts that are due equal $306.7 billion, but expected revenue is only $172.4 billion, which leaves a $134.3 billion deficit.
"Anybody who's been in office is part of the problem," said Pat Larkin, a Yorktown senior at the Croton Farmer's Market, "As far as I'm concerned, both sides are useless." His wife, Genevieve Larkin, said, "It's scary." She said without Social Security checks, "We'd be poor, we wouldn't survive."
"What's going to happen to people financing their education?" said Brenda Ryan, manager at the Croton Farmer's Market. "It would affect whether we leave our house. In the next five years we're talking about moving."
For Craig Purdy, owner of Umami Cafe in Croton, the availability of credit is not as big a concern as a lack of consumer confidence in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised. "I have purposely stayed a little long on cash, because I'm worried it would dampen consumer demand," said Purdy, "and I bought a Barron's today," he said about the financial magazine. "I have a few capital improvements that are scheduled to happen this summer that have been put off to see what happens."
Most parties agree, however, that the government will likely reach an 11th hour deal to raise the debt ceiling. "It sounds like Washington politics at play," said Black Cow owner Michael Grant, "and it's pathetic."
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