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By Bernie Foster Publisher of The Skanner News
Published: 15 July 2011

President Obama has made it clear that if an agreement on the debt ceiling is not reached before August 2, US seniors might not get their social security checks.

"There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," the president said. "This could include disability, unemployment, government contractors and all people who work for the US government."

Our financial markets are shaky, our global credit rating already is threatened, and our leading economic advisors are issuing stern warnings. All because our political leaders refuse to make this deal.

Congress as a whole should take responsibility for such a disastrous betrayal of the American people. But the president and Congress are paid from mandatory funding, not from the appropriations budget. Grandma can't pay the rent? Not a problem – for them.

At his press conference July 15, President Obama joked that now he was about to turn 50, he was as concerned about social security as anyone. Not true. Congress and the president don't have to worry about their future pension and benefits. Unlike the rest of us, they are guaranteed that income, no matter what happens in Congress.

Sen. Barbara Boxer believes Congress should have some skin in the game. She has proposed a bill that would stop payment of the president's and Congressional salaries, if the government shuts down because legislators can't reach agreement on either the budget or the debt ceiling.

Sen. Boxer's bill would make sure that the 535 people responsible for plunging America into crisis, will feel some of the pain they caused. Turns out the Senate agreed with Boxer and passed the bill. The House should pick this up and pass it. And the president should sign it into law.

Here at The Skanner News, we feel Congress should face further penalties. We'd like members of Congress and their families to lose their own health and other insurance premiums, and pay substantial fines – if they abandon their duty to score political points. For once, they might know the terror others are feeling when they learn that their source of income is being used as a political tool. They are inflicting unnecessary pain and fear on millions of ordinary Americans – on purpose.

The debt ceiling has been raised more than 100 times since 1917 – seven times during President Bush's administration. Yes, we need to get our financial house in order for the long term, but playing with default is making things far worse.

Of course, they won't really feel the pain of an unemployed parent struggling to keep his or her family housed and fed. These guys have made out far too well for far too long for that. But a hit to their pocketbooks might just get their attention.

Should Congress pay and benefits be cut when they play politics with peoples lives?
What Do You Think?

Bernie Foster is the publisher of The Skanner News a daily online newspaper and a weekly print edition.

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