Pelley: Can you tell the folks at home that no matter what happens, the Social Security checks are gonna go out on August the third? There are about $20 billion worth of Social Security checks that have to go out the day after the government is supposedly gonna go into default?
Mr. Obama: Well, this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks, these are folks on disability, and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out each month.
Pelley: Can you guarantee, as president, those checks will go out on August the third?
Mr. Obama: 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.
What could happen if the United States Government failed to meet its obligations? Our unbroken record of keeping our word could end with taxpayers bearing the costs for years to come because interest rates would go up on United States obligations. And interest rates could also go up for businesses, consumers, and homeowners, many of whom have interest rates that vary according to the Government's interest rates. And for tens of millions of Americans the unthinkable could happen: The Social Security checks they count on would not be able to be mailed out.
My fellow Americans, we are a great country. We have never—never—broken our word or defaulted on our obligations in our entire 220-year history. We've never failed to pay Social Security for senior citizens who've earned it.
So Congress should act responsibly and stop playing politics with America's good name. Let our Government pay its bills. In order to avoid endangering the March 1st Social Security checks, Congress should pass a straightforward, long-term debt limit immediately.