The "debt ceiling" battle is being fought not just in Washington, but all around the United States as people debate on how best to resolve the issue and who is to blame for the crisis.
Many of these people have submitted their thoughts about the topic to CNN in recent days through iReport. Some - be they military personnel, small business owners fearful of tax increases, or people receiving entitlement benefits - called for action as they spoke of the personal impact of failing to reach a resolution.
Others echoed Democratic and Republican leaders' talking points. In the former case, that includes possible revenue hikes and insisting that the debate shouldn't be renewed next year, and in the latter by insisting on no tax increase and movement on a balanced budget amendment that would mandate the nation balance its books.
Below is a sampling of recent iReporters' comments, as the U.S. government creeps closer to an August 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling or default on its debt.
What's at stake?
If the nation defaults on its debt, Staff Sgt. Tomas Valent – a U.S. Army Ranger combat medic at Fort Benning, Georgia – said he is deeply worried about losing his pay and benefits. If that happens, he said, "I will be nothing short of disgusted that the country I fought so hard to defend is being governed by individuals who feel their political beliefs are more important than the welfare of the general population."
As a man with disabilities and reliant on social security benefits, Philip Alexander Swiderski said that the debate already has caused him "great stress." The 33-year-old Texas resident said that a default would put his "only source of income, health care and housing ... in jeopardy." He urged the players to treat the debate as if they were in a marriage: "with deep thought and consideration towards others."
Nicholas Pegues, a 25-year-old who works with the Shelby County, Tennessee, election commission, said it was imperative that political leaders "unite and find a solution ... to secure a future for my generation."
Still, the political bickering up until now has already inflicted damage, said Christian Hopkins of Hartford, Connecticut. He said his "biggest concern is that the United States' reputation is already damaged as a result of this action.... We're being seen as a welfare state that borrows beyond its means."
How did this happen?
Omar Medina, a 33-year-old aerospace engineer from Annapolis, Maryland, blames "a small group in the House (that) has taken the U.S. economy hostage to try to save the U.S. economy. It's as if, collectively, they decided to throw a poltical temper tantrum on our behalf." Medina gives them credit for getting his and others attention, but said that Congress should now act and raise the debt ceiling.
How should this crisis be resolved?
Bill Dalton, a 55-year-old owner of a small consulting firm from Miami, sides with the Republican plan that has been pushed through the House (only to be defeated in the Democratic-controlled Senate). "Compromise only to the extent real spending cuts occur, not war savings, taxes on those of us with small businesses are not raised, the debt is reduced, and a balanced budget amendment is voted on in Congress by the end of the year," said Walton.
Rob Diaz, though, presented an opposing view. He said Republicans should "stop trying to reduce programs that people need to live on monthly" and added that the "rich need to do their part and pay higher taxes." The Texas resident, 30, favors a tax reform scheme "where major corporations, not small businesses, would pay taxes up to 1990s levels."
Diaz advocates that President Barack Obama "use the bully pulpit" to effect change – a sentiment voiced by fellow iReporter Vera Richardson. The 57-year-old, who said that she is disabled and who receives Medicare and Social Security benefits, said Obama - whom she supports - should step up and "set the tone and content of the national political debate."
Terry L. Heaps, a sales clerk, said a resolution can only be reached if "our elected officials ... stop behaving as children and reach an amicable solution that is fair and just to the American people." Given his flagging trust in politician, the 54-year-old Columbus, Ohio, resident wants U.S. voters (and not Congress) to decide which is the best plan to address the debt issue.
Cynthia Epps, though, thinks that there will be heroes coming out of this crisis. Opining "we absolutely crave moderation and common sense, not political rhetoric," the 51-year-old from Bothell, Washington said, "I actually believe that those who do cross party lines to really work together ... will be rewarded by voters in the next election."