YOUR LETTERS: Congress must raise the debt ceiling

Since Republicans took over House leadership, they’ve focused on settling political scores but made no serious effort to do the job. Instead, they are taking us to the brink—refusing to pay the nation’s bills, playing chicken with the debt ceiling, risking a default that threatens the American economy. And for what? More tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and cuts to the services millions of Americans depend on, like Medicare, Social Security and even food programs benefiting hungry children. Each day, the threat of a default crisis grows. And even the threat itself causes problems.

Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t cost us a penny. But failing to raise the ceiling means the U.S. government won’t be able to pay its bills. This would cause tremendous economic harm. If Republican extremists in Congress let us default, it would:

  • Threaten the earned benefits of seniors, veterans and families relying on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Compromise the ability of doctors and hospitals to provide services to patients with Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Delay paychecks to National Guard, active military and federal workers, who do things like keep our food supply secure and our bridges safe for driving.
  • Imperil critical state and locally administered programs like Title I.
  • Dramatically increase interest rates on products that people across the country use every day, from cars to mortgages to credit cards to student loans, while gutting 401(k) and retirement investments.
  • Damage the full faith and credit of the U.S. government in the global economy.

Simply put, Congress must not permit a default on the debt limit. Make no mistake: This is a forced crisis, and the extreme wing of the GOP needs to stop playing this game now. Congress has a long history of working across the aisle to raise the debt limit with no strings attached — in fact, it did it three times when Trump was in the White House.

We cannot allow the GOP to let us default. The consequences to working folks are too high. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper to show Congress that our national economy is not a field for playing political games.

President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

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