As the saga of raising the United States' debt ceiling continues, Americans are watching with concern how political egos are driving the economy into another crisis that could jeopardise their jobs, homes and social benefits.
US President Barack Obama warned earlier in July that if a decision isn't reached by the August 2 deadline, Medicare, social security and veterans benefits could be the price.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks will go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue," he said.
Now the clock is ticking and the crisis seems to be closer than anyone had expected.
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Norman T. Dodge, 69, of Pittsburg calls the scenario a "disaster" if the country, in an attempt to evade a first-ever default, is forced to cut spending on social security benefits.
"I am in a situation where I cannot find work. If they shut everything down and they cut social security. I am like in a dilemma as far as finances go," says Dodge who has suffered two strokes and has been dependent on social security since 2002.
Dodge shares the feelings of millions of Americans who cannot imagine life without social benefits. While an actual cut to this lifeline may be a political gamble ahead of the elections next year, seniors, families and veterans cannot help worrying about the outcome of the current crisis.
Jack Unker of South Jordan, Utah, says he worries about any potential cut to Medicare that is essential to providing care for his son who is mentally-disabled. "If we didn't have Medicare, I could lose my home because I could not make the payments for all the medication he is taking. Just couldn't do it," he says.
Unker, who turns 80 in August, says the economic fallout of this crisis may hit another son too who works in the construction field.
"The economy is so bad and the housing [sector] is so bad. If they don't build houses, then my son has no job," he says.
"The longer it [the deadlock] goes on, the harder it is to get a job, the harder it is for people to make their payments."
A rise in unemployment rate is not unlikely under all scenarios. Whether an agreement is reached or not, uncertainty and tightened spending carries the potential of a rise in interest rates which means it will make it more difficult for businesses to grow or retain their workforce.
Some even fear that the working middle class could be forced to handle another blow with higher taxes.
"Personally and for my family our concern is one of overreaction by the Fed and the political system to increase taxes on the lower middle and middle class," says Philip Alexander, a 39-year old father of two.
Alexander also warns of the fallout in global markets. "We would see chaos in the financial systems which base their currencies on the dollar standard," he says.
While both the Democrats and the Republicans have already been pointing fingers at each other for the current standoff and potential consequences, people often bundle the blame against both parties. "They are acting like children," says Unker. "They nitpick over little things."
Alexander agrees: "Most of this is chest puffing, and is meaningless political banter."
However, this crisis seems to be turning into a lose-lose situation, at least for Obama whose approval ratings in US opinion polls fell to nearly 45 per cent from above 50 per cent after he ordered the raid that killed Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden in May.
A further dent to the president's popularity is likely in all cases. "What will kill Obama if the Republican plan passes Congress, if he doesn't sign, he'll be the devil to everyone, and if he does then he'll have his whole constituency wondering why," says Alexander.
Unker seems to have some sympathy though for the president. "I realise that now the Republicans say that President Obama cannot continue going back to President Bush and say it is his fault…But he inherited such a mess that it is difficult to catch up."
In this particular crisis, he says the Republicans "don't seem to want to give in. They don't want to compromise." Dodge doesn't care about what he called the "mumble jumble" of the politicians. He only wants their hands off his social security check. "They should leave social security for the people who put it in… If they want to mess with ours, cut their wages and they will have a little bit of respect for ours," he bitterly smiles.
People most affected
Salt Lake City : According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), in 2010 social security beneficiaries were more than 54 million including retirees, disabled workers, widows, widowers, children and spouses received. Social Security is the principal source of family income for over half of older Americans, and roughly one quarter of those aged 65 and older live in families that depend on Social Security benefits for 90 per cent or more of their income.
Some Americans don't seem to be aware that another blow to the economy can be around the corner. A couple who seemed to be window shopping in a busy mall on a Friday afternoon said they were not aware of this whole debt ceiling crisis. "We live in a bubble," the man said, smiling at his pregnant partner.
An employee with JPMorgan Chase bank said, when asked regarding the impact of this crisis on her life, that she just doesn't follow the news. "It depresses me," she laughed as she hastily walked away.