Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans are Playing Political Football with Veterans’ Livelihoods

Michael Owens outside facing camera wearing suitDr. Michael Owens (photo courtesy of Michael Owens)

This opinion article is by Dr. Michael Owens, a Mableton resident, cybersecurity executive, and a candidate for Georgia Secretary of State

With Senate Republicans turning the long-standing bipartisan tradition of raising America’s debt ceiling into a facetious political game, the GOP is putting millions of Georgians’ livelihoods at risk — especially for veterans like me.

As a third-generation wartime veteran, I served eight years in the Marine Corps on active and reserve duty with some of the bravest men and women I have ever met. I, and the other more than 697,000 veterans who live in Georgia, have dedicated our lives to service to this country — and we’d do it all over again. But as we watch Mitch McConnell lead Republicans to put their own politics above the livelihoods of millions of active duty military members, veterans, and Americans — it’s clear that the GOP cares more about partisanship than what’s best for our country.

About 10,000 veterans in Georgia receive military pensions, and over 186,000 receive disability payments. I know firsthand how essential these benefits are for those who have sacrificed for this nation. But if the Senate GOP ultimately puts their partisanship ahead of the people of Georgia, veterans could see compensation or pension payments lapse — putting their financial well-being in jeopardy.

If Republicans shut down the government, they’ll prevent about 69,000 active duty military members in Georgia from receiving their paychecks until the debt ceiling is raised. The potential damage that a GOP government shutdown could cause extends beyond veteran and military families as well. Social security, food assistance, and child tax credit recipients would see their benefits stop — and non-military federal employees would also go without pay. Senate Republicans are playing a dangerous game with real families’ health and stability, and it has to stop.

If Mitch McConnell gets his way, the Senate GOP could send our recovering economy into a tailspin, cost six million American jobs and put millions of families in financial danger. According to Moody’s Analytics, the GOP shutdown would send the unemployment rate surging to roughly nine percent from around five percent. In 2019, after adding nearly $8 trillion in debt under President Trump, Mitch McConnell was adamantly against the United States defaulting on debt. But now that there’s a Democratic president, he’s using the debt limit as a political football.

While Republicans jeopardize our economic recovery, it is more important than ever that Congress pass President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and bipartisan infrastructure deal to invest in America’s future and continue to strengthen our economy. The GOP must put their political theater aside and join Democrats to raise the debt ceiling as soon as possible.

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