Harrison Reacts to U.S. Debt Ceiling Debates

HARRISON, N.Y. - Harrison's Bob Cipolla is a microcosm of what many Americans might think about the debt ceiling debates in Washington, D.C.

"I'm concerned that the politicians in Washington appear to be the Keystone Cops," Cipolla said on The Daily Harrison Facebook page. "It's sad and disgusting that the 'two-party system' has evolved into a forum for acrimony, finger-pointing and incompetence."

As Democrats and Republicans continue to engage in a stand-off as the Tuesday deadline approaches to raise the debt ceiling, local officials say if an agreement isn’t reached by then, it could mean some dire consequences for local governments and their constituents.

While it’s been widely reported that if Tuesday’s deadline isn’t met, the government will “default,” that’s technically not true, officials say. Default happens when interest on loans is not paid, however, officials say there will be enough money from tax revenue to cover those payments.

“I agree that the definition of ‘default’ is more technically detailed than used in common parlance,” said Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R – Mount Kisco), of New York’s 19th district. “The treasury will still be able to pay our sovereign debt obligations.”

That, Hayworth, said includes treasury bonds, Social Security, and Medicare. “Those debt obligations will be taken care of,” she said.

Hayworth also noted that while everyone is focused on the Tuesday deadline, she said “knowledgeable observers” say it could be a few days longer before the impact of the failure to raise the debt ceiling is felt.

“It could be a few more days (past Aug. 2),” she said.

However, if those days do pass without any resolution, Hayworth said the local governments and organizations in Westchester County will most likely to feel the pinch with things such as Community Development Block Grants. She said the treasury department would have to prioritize its payments and items such as Social Security, Medicaid and military paychecks would likely be at the top of the list and not grants.

“Some might have to give an IOU to their local contractors if they’re willing to take one,” she said.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D - Harrison), of New York’s 18th district, said in addition to a possible delay in Social Security benefits and other services, failure to raise the debt ceiling could result in higher interest rates that could impact the cost of mortgages and credit card payments.

“Families could lose thousands of dollars from retirement savings and investments,” she said. “It is clear that Congress and the president must agree to a plan that ends the default crisis and includes responsible spending reductions that do not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans.”

New York State Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson) said the fallout would be especially trying for the state because he feels New York does not rebound quickly from fiscal crisis.

“Historically, New York State takes twice as long to recover from an economic downturn,” he said. “So, any recovery caused by this would be doubly hard. It would go beyond lost grant money. It would cause a problem balancing the state budget. It’s odd that Washington is making Albany look good right now. But all I can say is this would be devastating at both the state and local level.”

Cipolla said the failure to act might be the cause for changes in voter trends.

"Maybe that's why more and more registered voters are now Independent or without party affiliation," he said.

What do you think of the debt ceiling debate? Tell us what you think Washington should do on Facebook and Twitter.

E-mail town reporter Phil Corso at

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