The Top 3 ways the debt ceiling debate hits home in Pa. | Thursday Morning Coffee

The debate isn’t academic. A failure to reach a deal would have hit Keystone Staters and their families right in their wallets

October 7, 2021 7:07 am

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky (Getty Images).

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate appeared poised this Thursday morning to avert an immediate meltdown of the U.S. economy, as the two sides agreed to the contours of a GOP-authored, two-month extension of the nation’s borrowing limit, Roll Call reported.

Such a move would give Democrats more time to find a way to raise the debt ceiling without Republican votes.

The failure to raise the debt limit could have “catastrophic” results for the nation’s economy, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned this week. The two sides needed a deal by Oct. 18 to avert that catastrophe.

While this is good news in the short term, as Roll Call notes, Republicans and Democrats still have not agreed to a long-term solution. Below, a look at what’s at stake for Pennsylvania in this debate.

(Photo via Flickr Commons)

1. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance: As CNN reported back on Sept. 22, more than a half-trillion dollars in funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could have beeen delayed, impacting 1 in 5 Americans.

In Pennsylvania, that would impact 159,679 children in the CHIP program statewide, according to federal data shared with the Capital-Star.

2. The Child Tax Credit: Thirty-five million families, with 60 million children, have been receiving monthly payments under the Biden administration’s popular child tax credit program. The failure to have reached an agreement could have led to a delay in the fourth batch of those payments landing in Americans’ mailboxes, according to CBS News.

Those payments are $300 per-child aged six and younger, and $250 for children aged 6-17. They’ve been credited with helping to dramatically reduce the nation’s child poverty rate, CBS News reported.

In Pennsylvania, the families of more than 2.2 million children statewide received the first batch of payments in July, according to U.S. Treasury Department data.

Image via Flickr Commons

3. Social Security payments would have been impacted: Nearly 50 million seniors nationwide could face delays in their payments for the first time since 1935 if Congress fails to reach a deal soon, CNN reported late last month.

About 40 percent of beneficiaries depend on the monthly checks for at least 90 percent of their income, while two-thirds of recipients depend on the infusions for at least half of their income, Max Richtman, CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, told CNN.

“Not having a check for a few weeks or a month is devastating,” Richtman told CNN. “Beneficiaries are going to have to decide: Do I pay my rent? Do I buy food? Do I buy my medicine?”

More than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians could have seen a delay in their payments if Congress fails to raise the debt limit before Oct. 18, according to federal data.

Sometimes the debates on Capitol Hill can feel like abstractions. This is not one of those times.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.

Marley Parish leads our coverage, diving into new state data to show you the Top 5 most- and least-vaccinated state House and Senate districts across the commonwealth. Cassie Miller lends a hand with some excellent interactive maps.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 5,058 new cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases statewide to more than 1.45 million since the start of the pandemic, Cassie Miller reports.

During a hearing Wednesday, a state House panel tackled laws that improbably punish Pennsylvanians living with HIV, Correspondent Frank Pizzoli reports. Activists also unveiled a mural celebrating the resilience of those who live with the virus.

The FBI will investigate pandemic-related threats made against school board members and teachers, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa writes.

Is Pittsburgh City Council poised to wield more clout ahead of a historic mayoral transition? Our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper take a look.

Millions of Pennsylvanians experienced more than a month’s worth of elevated air pollution levels in 2020, a new report from the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group found. Our partners at City & State Pa. have the details.

The Philadelphia School District has made some changes to the district’s consequential school selection process ahead of the 2022-23 school year, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, columnist Charlene Briner, of our sibling site the Minnesota Reformer, has a question: Amid our fellow citizens’ foolish choices, how do we maintain our empathy? And writing in the pages of our sibling site, the Kansas Reflector, veteran journalist Max McCoy brings you this dispatch from the Heartland: Life, death, and a grim milestone.

Photo via pxHere


Magnet school admissions in Philadelphia are being overhauled in the name of equity, the Inquirer reports.

Amid a rise in COVID hospitalizations, health officials in Allegheny County are warning about a concurrent rise in misinformation, the Post-Gazette reports.

PennLive’s John Baer surveys the 2022 GOP field for Pennsylvania governor and wonders, as everyone else is, whether Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, will jump into the race (paywall).

Despite rising cases, many Pennsylvania school districts are passing up access to free testingSpotlight PA reports (via the Morning Call).

A majority of Luzerne County Council vowed not to raise local property taxes next year, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

WHYY-FM updates on the latest developments in the federal corruption trial of union boss John Dougherty.

Warning of a imminent collapse, agencies that serve people with disabilities are calling for more state funding to pay staffWESA-FM reports.

Erie leaders say recent power outages in the city’s downtown underscore the need for infrastructure upgradesGoErie reports.

Small states are crying foul over the distribution of rental relief reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
Yep. He’s gotta be running for governor. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, holds an 11 a.m. golf outing at Toftrees Golf Resort in State College today, with the maximum ask an eye-watering $10,000. The minimum is $250, though, if that’s too rich for your blood.

Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 1 p.m. virtual news conference to announce what his office describes as a multi-state effort to prevent gun violence.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Capital-Star opinion contributor Mark O’Keefe, who completes another trip around the sun. Congratulations, sir, and enjoy your day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s some new solo music from Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, in which he channels his inner Tom Petty. The song is called ‘Long Way.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link
The Guardian continues its survey of soccer’s next generation. This morning, a look at the Top 60 rising talents in the world game.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.