As the clock ticks on raising the nation's debt ceiling, President Obama said Tuesday he cannot guarantee that retirees will receive their Social Security checks August 3 if Democrats and Republicans do not come together and reach an agreement to reduce the deficit.
In an interview with CBS's Scott Pelley, Obama talked about the repercussions of not getting a deal by the August 2nd deadline. "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd, if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."
The Treasury Department has warned that if Congress fails to raise the nation's $14.29 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, the US will default on its debt for the first time in its history.
The White House says it's pretty clear the effect will be significant and would entail a "Sophie's Choice situation, where you have to decide what bills you can pay." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said "We can't guarantee if there were a default any specific bill will be paid...That's why the leaders have been clear that we will vote to have the United States fulfill its obligations. And the president feels strongly that that will happen."
But as Democrats and Republicans turn up the heat against each other, the terms of a big deal appear to be further out of reach.
Carney suggested Congress is to blame for pushing these things up to the very last minute. Comparing the current stalemate to the Continuing Resolution debate which dragged on for months, Carney said this situation is even more inconvenient because if Congress does not act in time, it "could have an effect on markets that...would be damaging to the economy."
Despite the rhetoric between the two parties, the White House maintains the tone behind the closed door meetings continue to be constructive and respectful. "[I think the leaders will come together" Carney said. "The president and vice president will come together and they will continue to push forward towards an agreement because there is no alternative."