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Eastchester Seniors Optimistic on Debt Agreement

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- Senior citizens such as Eastchester resident Joe Mongelli are confident the U.S. federal government will raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid default.

"They will settle it," predicted Mongelli. "There would be too much havoc and the money is too big for them not to."

Mongelli and his wife Grace, have been married for 54 years. Although they have weathered economic storms in the past, the Mongelli's agree this is different.

"The American public has been asleep at the wheel for too long. Everyone was doing well, so we ignored the warning signs and just kept voting without really paying attention," he said. "Now this country is in trouble."

Still the Mongelli's do not feel that they may lose their Social Security and Medicare benefits even for a short time.

"I just don't see that happening," Mongelli said. "The will come to a solution even if it is five minutes to midnight on the last day."

Local representatives say they will honor their obligations to seniors even if Congress can't reach an agreement.

If, in fact, Democrats and Republicans cannot end their bitter stand-off before Tuesday's deadline, local representatives fear the worst, but have assured their constituents that Social Security and Medicare will be taken care of.

"The treasury will still be able to pay our sovereign debt obligations," said Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R -- Mount Kisco) of New York's 19th District.

Hayworth said the local governments and organizations in Westchester County will be most likely to feel the pinch with things such as Community Development Block Grants. She said the treasury department would have to prioritize its payments and items such as Social Security, Medicaid and military paychecks would likely be at the top of the list, not grants.

"Some might have to give an IOU to their local contractors if they're willing to take one," she said.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D - Harrison), of New York's 18th District said failure to raise the debt ceiling could result in higher interest rates that could impact the cost of mortgages and credit card payments.

"Families could lose thousands of dollars from retirement savings and investments," she said. "It is clear that Congress and the president must agree to a plan that ends the default crisis and includes responsible spending reductions that do not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans."

New York State Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson) said the fallout would be especially trying for the state because he feels New York does not rebound quickly from fiscal crisis.

"Historically, New York State takes twice as long to recover from an economic downturn," he said. "So, any recovery caused by this would be doubly hard. It would go beyond lost grant money. It would cause a problem balancing the state budget. It's odd that Washington is making Albany look good right now. But all I can say is this would be devastating at both the state and local level."

Mongelli agrees.

"Whatever solution they come up with is going to become the burden for future generations," Mongelli said. "I really worry about that."

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