📰 Op-Ed: The Debt Default None of Us Can Afford

📰 Op-Ed: The Debt Default None of Us Can Afford

May 12, 2023

A Grandma's Wish To Survive

“The best way to honor mothers this Mother’s Day is for Congress to do what’s right: pay the nation’s bills by raising the borrowing limit to assure a stable economy and avoid default,” writes Carrol Olinger, a Cumberland County resident.

This Mother’s Day, I’m celebrating being the proud mother of four daughters, one son, and five grandchildren. My children are my pride and joy, and throughout my life they have been my top priority. Today, even as a retired educator, and seasoned community leader, I still worry more about my children than anything else in the world.

And, unfortunately, I have good reason to worry given the current debate about national default in Congress. Our economic future, our healthcare, education for our children–all of it is at risk because of the upside-down priorities of many elected leaders that are putting my children–and everyone else’s–in harm’s way.

For most of us, paying the bills comes first. It comes before luxuries, before upgrades, before whims–that’s what I taught my children.

But some leaders in Congress clearly don’t agree with me.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s default plan would only enable the United States to keep paying its debts on time if Congress also slashes spending on everything from veterans’ health to public safety and education. If Democrats don’t agree to these cuts, Speaker McCarthy and Republicans in Congress will not agree on a lift the borrowing limit so the United States can keep paying bills on time and avoid default.

Default means that, as early as June 1st, the federal government will no longer be able to pay on obligations it owes everyone from foreign governments to Medicare providers, causing widespread panic in the economy, hastening recession, and undermining the credit of our government abroad.

McCarthy has the wrong priorities: instead of working with the President and other leaders in Congress on passing a clean debt ceiling bill that will keep our country stable and protect us from economic harm–as Congress has done over 70 times in the last 60 years–he’s playing chicken with the economy.

A grandma’s wish to survive is turning into a nightmare! I shouldn’t have to wish for basic needs for myself, my grandkids and the American people.

The GOP bill that McCarthy already passed in the House proposes cuts in everything from Medicaid, Meals on Wheels, and education funding to rail inspections, while at the same time also watering down tax enforcement for families making $400,000 or more. That means that wealthy households will continue to pay less in taxes than many middle-class families do while the rest of us face higher costs in healthcare, housing, food, and other expenses because of the cuts to these programs.

People like my daughter, who has been unable to get steady health coverage for years, may lose what access to Medicaid she has because of these cuts. So could many others, including low-wage workers who can’t get affordable coverage on the job, veterans, kids and more. Another cause for worry: millions of people are already losing coverage and losing food stamps because of the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency—this could make everything worse.

In North Carolina alone, an estimated 54,000 women, infants, and children would lose vital nutrition assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and 16,700 families would lose access to rental assistance, according to a federal analysis. As many as 284,200 veterans could lose outpatient visits, leaving them unable to get appointments for care like wellness visits, mental health services, and substance disorder treatment. Cuts to basics like healthcare, education and housing should be the last thing any mom in America should have to worry about, on Mother’s Day, or any other time.

The best way to honor mothers this Mother’s Day is for Congress to do what’s right: pay the nation’s bills by raising the borrowing limit to assure a stable economy and avoid default. Then, rather than arguing about what’s going to be cut, start making the rich and corporations pay what they owe, at the minimum their fair share!