U.S. debt ceiling deadline looms; what a breach could mean for you in Mississippi

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Negotiations and debate regarding the U.S. debt ceiling continued today in Washington D.C., but with no solution agreed upon yet, some people here in Mississippi are predicting the impact of a default.

The debt ceiling is the total amount of money that the federal government can borrow to fund items, including Social Security and Medicare, military salaries, tax refunds, and more. The United States debt ceiling has reached $31.4 trillion.

The deadline for raising the U.S. debt ceiling is quickly approaching.

“The treasury department has been taking extraordinary measures to keep the United States under that,” State Economist Corey Miller said.

But with political ground on the line in Washington, negotiations could extend past the June 1st deadline. Miller says that would create consequences for you here in the magnolia state.

“Government payments could be delayed. These include basically anybody expecting a transfer payment from the federal government, such as Social Security, disability payments, SNAP, food stamp benefits, Medicare, Medicaid payments, all of those would be affected,” Miller explained.

And with 19%, or about 1 in 5 people, falling below the poverty line, some families could suffer immediately.

“The living wage for families in Mississippi far exceeds the typical hourly wage workers typically earn in the Mississippi workforce. And what that means is that she needs to have basic needs supplemented, and these programs do that,” Carol Burnett, Executive Director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, said.

Federal Programs would be the first to go... meaning 71% of Mississippians would likely not have access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and over 700,000 would lose Medicaid access.

‘Not having snap means not having enough money to feed your family. Not having Medicaid would mean not being able to provide health insurance. And what heartbreak would that be,” Burnett said.

Meanwhile, Miller says unemployment could jump up 5% over the next year, even if Congress misses the deadline by just a week.

“It would be more difficult for manufacturing firms to get credit because of higher interest rates, making more likely for those firms with manufacturing firms to have to lay off workers. So states like Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri would all be hit harder because of that,” Miller said.

“We really stand to see a lot of harm to those families if, if this happens,” Burnett said.

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