SCHUMER DISCUSSES LATEST ON DEBT CEILING NEGOTIATONS WITHOUT AGREEMENT, MILLIONS OF NEW YORK SOCIAL SECURITY RECIPIENTS & VETERANS COULD FAIL TO RECEIVE THEIR CHECKS
On Conference Call, Schumer Discusses Proposals To Raise The Debt Ceiling and The Current Status Of Negotiations In Washington If Agreement Isnt Reached, Social Security And Key Veterans Benefits Could Be At Risk Schumer Report Details The Number Of Social Security Recipients & Veterans Who Could Be Affected If U.S. Defaults Schumer: We Cannot Delay, We Must Come To An Agreement To Keep NY Benefits Flowing
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer addressed the potential consequences for Upstate New York if the debt ceiling is not raised in time. If there is no agreement and the revenue coming into the federal government fails to cover all of the government's obligations, the Administration will have to decide which programs to fund, and which will not be funded. In order to prevent the Administration from having to choose between funding for our troops in the field, paying off our debt, or paying benefits that Upstate New York seniors and veterans rely upon, Schumer is pushing for a bipartisan agreement that cuts over $2 trillion in spending from the federal government over the next ten years to put us on a path towards major deficit reduction. Without an agreement that raises the debt ceiling, it is possible that Social Security and veterans' benefit checks would have to be cut or stopped for some beneficiaries so that the government has enough funding to continue functioning.
"Millions of senior citizens across Upstate New York rely on Social Security to make ends meet," said Schumer. "They worked hard their whole lives and are counting on that money to be there on time each and every month. To let partisanship and political games stand in the way of our seniors' benefits is simply appalling, but the ramifications of failing to act don't end there. Thousands upon thousands of veterans are at risk of seeing their disability checks, pension benefits, tuition benefits, and loan guarantees stopped if we can't come together and reach an agreement. We cannot play games with our seniors and veterans' benefits; it's time for an agreement on the debt ceiling to keep these key payments flowing."
Senator Schumer supports a new compromise plan that cuts more than $2 trillion from the national debt over the next decade without raising any taxes for Upstate New Yorkers. The cuts come from the domestic discretionary side of the budget and also include savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plan also saves $40 billion by reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in mandatory spending programs. While Schumer has been pushing for an agreement that would close tax loopholes for big corporations, millionaires and billionaires, this bill is designed as a compromise that will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats in order to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its loans.
In August, the government is expected to take in about $170 billion in revenue, but is required to pay out approximately 80 million checks totaling over $300 billion. These expenditures include entitlement programs, payments to defense contractors, salaries for border security and other defense personnel, interest payments on the debt, and expenditures to keep the federal government's various departments operational. If the debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury Department will not be able to make up the difference. Treasury has warned that it may not be able to choose which payments to make and which ones to delay or forego, but even if they are able to prioritize payments they will be forced to choose which programs and beneficiaries will receive continued benefits, and when they will receive them. No matter which programs the Department chooses to fund, between 4045% of bills will go unpaid. Even a short term default means that seniors and veterans could see their benefits reduced, delayed, or completely withheld. Between social security payments and various veterans' benefit payments, millions of New Yorkers receive billions in benefits each year - the ontime delivery of these checks could be put at risk in the event of a default. Here is how the numbers break down across the state:
· In the Capital Region there are 230,610 Social Security recipients receiving $257,561,000 in benefits and 20,205 veterans receiving benefits valued at $259,630,052
· In Western New York there are 298,065 Social Security recipients receiving $331,079,000 in benefits and 24,571 veterans receiving benefits valued at $315,700,832
· In the RochesterFinger Lakes Region there are 246,980 Social Security recipients receiving $281,466,000 in benefits and 19,667 veterans receiving benefits valued at $252,876,774
· In the Southern Tier there are 168,290 Social Security recipients receiving $180,604,000 in benefits and 14,048 veterans receiving benefits valued at $180,521,493
· In Central New York there are 214,525 Social Security recipients receiving $233,941,000 in benefits and 17,707 veterans receiving benefits valued at $186,587,275
· In the Hudson Valley there are 395,575 Social Security recipients receiving $486,233,000 in benefits and 28,207 veterans receiving benefits valued at $362,428,974
· In the North Country there are 115,710 Social Security recipients receiving $120,074,000 in benefits and 11,117 veterans receiving benefits valued at $142,872,562
In addition to the social security payments at risk, tens of thousands of Upstate New York veterans could see their checks and benefits stopped or held back. Thanks to their service, veterans and qualifying family members have earned the right to participate in a number of programs to help them learn new skills to succeed in civilian jobs, make up lost income if they were injured serving our country and unable to work, and receive pension benefits when they retire. Here are some of the key programs at risk (information obtained from the Veterans Benefits Administration):
· Compensation and Pension Based Upon ServiceConnected Disability or Death - The compensation program provides monthly benefits to Veterans in recognition of the effects of disabilities, diseases, or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service. The program also provides monthly payments to survive spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents in recognition of the economic loss caused by a Veteran's death during military service or, subsequent to a discharge from military service, as a result of a serviceconnected disability. Pension programs are designed to provide eligible Veterans and their survivors a level of income that raises their standard of living and sense of dignity. Wartime Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled, or who are age 65 or above and who meet minimum service requirements, may be eligible for a disability pension. Surviving spouses and children of eligible veterans could receive death pension benefits.
· Education Benefits - There are seven primary VA education benefits programs that provide Veterans, Servicemembers, reservists and certain family members of veterans with educational resources to supplement opportunities missed because of military service. The programs are meant to help the armed forces both recruit and retain members. For members of the Armed Forces, VA educational benefits assist in the readjustment to civilian life. On a broader scale, educational benefits are meant to enhance the Nation's competitiveness through the development of a more highly educated and productive workforce.
· Life Insurance - The life insurance programs provide Servicemembers and their families with universally available life insurance as well as traumatic injury protection insurance for Servicemembers. They also provide for the conversion to a renewable term insurance policy after a Servicemember's separation from service. In addition, the programs provide life insurance to Veterans who have lost their ability to purchase commercial insurance at standard (healthy) rates due to lost or impaired insurability resulting from military service.
· Loan Guarantees - The objective of the VA Home Loan Guaranty program is to help eligible Veterans, active duty personnel, surviving spouses, and members of the Reserves and National Guard purchase, retain, and adapt homes in recognition of their service to the Nation. Loans can be used to purchase a home, a residential unit or condo, build a home, refinance an existing loan, or improve a home by installing energy conserving technology. The Loan Guaranty Program was originally part of a national effort to move from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy and to avoid the economic recession historically associated with postwar periods. The program was one of the innovations advanced the GI Bill of Rights. By providing loan guaranties, the government could provide the housing benefit to the Veteran at little cost.
· Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment - The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess program provides comprehensive services and assistance necessary to enable Veterans with service connected disabilities and employment handicaps to obtain stable and suitable employment. When the severity of disability prohibits suitable employment, VR&E assists those Veterans to achieve maximum independence in daily living. The VR&E Program provides a wide range of vocational and employment services to Veterans, activeduty Servicemembers and eligible dependents. These services are designed to help Servicemembers and Veterans choose a career path and assist them in achieving their employment goals. Assistance includes interest and aptitude testing, occupational exploration, career counseling, training and job placement services.
"The consequences of inaction will be instantly and painfully clear for some of our most vulnerable and deserving citizens and their families," continued Schumer. "We owe it to our seniors, our veterans, and families across New York to come together as quickly as possible on a deal to keep their financial futures and federal benefits intact."
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