New Yorkers Weigh in on the Debt Ceiling

As contentious debt ceiling negotiations continue between President Obama and Republicans in Washington, D.C., we asked New Yorkers on Wall Street to weigh in on their greatest concerns about the standoff and how it affects their lives.

Eric Gonzalez, 55, Manhattan, a street vendor

What do you make of the debt ceiling standoff?

"It's a power struggle. Republicans want things their way, and everything Obama asked for 'No, no no.' But everything Bush asked for they voted for whether it put us in a bad situation or not. 

How are you going to cut Medicare and all that for the people who don’t have it and the rich people you don’t want to tax them? But that's politics. Both groups should compromise.

How do you think this might affect your life?

"It wont affect me now but it will affect generations coming."

Peter Kenny, 41, New Jersey City, works on Wall Street

How will do you think the debt ceiling talks affect your life?

"As a citizen of the U.S, and having money, this will freeze up the credit markets and cause interest rates to rise. It's gonna be a bad thing for a lot of people. Worst of all will be to lose the AAA rating for the U.S. and not be the quote-unquote safe-haven for money around the world."

Who should break the standoff?

"It will likely happen in the 11th hour, but is symptomatic of the complete breakdown of discourse in this country. Shows no one is talking to each other—it's often echo chamber playing to its base.

A plague on both their houses. ... But at the end of the day, they have to get us through this. I'm discouraged by not being ably led, but we voted for these clowns so I don't know what to make of all that.

We're at a point [where] we're confronted with not a lesser of two evils but an evil of two lessers."


Karen Jamin, 66, Bay Ridge, fund trader

How do you suggest lawmakers come to an agreement?

"I think they have to stop fighting and being stupid and selfish. Each side needs to make concessions to cut tax loopholes and raise the social security age and some of our entitlements — maybe Medicare 67 — life span is older now.

The tea partiers are not making sense. They blame Wall Street for everything. They all bought houses they couldn’t afford and took out mortgages they couldn’t afford and then they blamed Wall Street. We made money but so did a lot of greedy people. We all need to buckle down."


Sonya Pinero, 24, student and law clerk in Manhattan

What’s your chief concern with the debt negotiations?

"My main worry is getting student loans. That's one thing they could likely cut back on because that’s a lot of money right there. I accepted a loan of about $60,000 for NYU this year, and I know that amount might not be available in the future if we default. It makes me think, if the government defaults, do I still have to pay my loans because they’re setting a bad example? That’s immature but it's what I thought."


Larry Hornstein, 81, Long Island, accountant

Are you monitoring the talks?

"Of course, it will be disastrous if they don't come to an agreement because the country will default and if we default, the whole world defaults, then where the heck are we?"

What's of most concern to you?

"I'm an advocate of people paying their share, the rich need to pay more. ... The big issue of the Republicans is taxing the rich. I'm worried my kids plus grandkids will be involved with making up deficits. ... I went through that. I'm an old guy now, but we seemed to survive it. Social Security is also on my mind. The biggest mistake would be extending the age to qualify. We paid in all these years, and they're telling me I can't have my money back? That's not fair. There are many issues that could be addressed before touching medicare and Social Security."