by Pam Zubeck
Think the debate in Washington over the debt limit doesn't affect you? In fact, if the United States defaulted on the national debt, federal government revenue won't cover obligations. In other words, those who depend on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veteran's benefits and military payments, to name a few, would be up the creek, so to speak, according to a press release from the office of Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
According to a county-by-county breakdown provided by Bennet's office, El Paso County would be in a world of hurt, being the most dependent on federal dollars of any county in the state when it comes to federal expenditures and federal retirement and disability payments.
“Failing to extend the debt limit is not like a family cutting up their credit card to reduce spending. It is more like a family deciding not to pay its mortgage, utility bill or other debt that it already incurred. In this case, the obligations are promises Congress has made,” Bennet said. “If the debt limit is not addressed, it will have real and painful effects for Colorado families, the country and our economy.”
A disruption in Social Security benefits would affect more than 54 million Americans nationally, including 693,341 in Colorado, while a disruption in Medicare benefits would affect more than 45 million Americans, including 597,989 Coloradans.
In our military community, 22.5 million veterans across the country, including 421,342 in Colorado, would be at risk of having their benefits disrupted. Among the more than 204,000 active duty troops who may stop receiving payments for their service, 7,411 reside in Colorado. (All Colorado figures as of 2009.)
The federal government contributed $3.2 trillion to local communities’ economies across the country in fiscal year 2009. These investments include Social Security, Medicare and grants to local and state governments for law enforcement, transportation and other investments critical to communities. Without these resources, states and localities may be forced to raise property taxes on families, who would already be facing additional burdens as their benefits disappeared.
Below are details on federal expenditures by Colorado county.
* Payments to individuals, firms and organizations, excluding retirement and disability — Includes Medicare payments.
Amounts are in thousands of dollars.