By Sam Youngman - 07/12/11 08:15 PM EDT
President Obama upped the ante in the ongoing debt-ceiling debate Tuesday, telling CBS News that without raising the ceiling, he can't guarantee that Social Security checks will be sent Aug. 3.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3 if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to speak on the interview, which is set to air Tuesday night, but he agreed that if the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the ceiling isn't met, "we can't guarantee if there were a default that any specific bill would be paid."
Carney warned again that Aug. 2 is a "hard and fast and real deadline," saying that even though the talks appear to have gone off the rails, "we're in the 'matter of days' phase of these negotiations."
Obama told CBS that more than just Social Security payouts would be endangered if no deal could be reached.
"These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks," the president said. "There are about 70 million checks that go out."
The White House is pushing hard for a deal that would give Congress time to craft and pass legislation in time to avoid default. But developments this week have illustrated just how far apart the two parties are.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers are scheduled to return to the White House Tuesday afternoon for more talks.
Carney also rejected the idea put forth by Republicans that the debt ceiling is not their problem.
"It is not a Democratic problem. It is not a Republican problem," Carney said. "It is an American problem, and it is something we have to do together.
"The president doesn't have a vote in this. Congress has to act."
—This story was originally posted at 1:30 p.m. and has been updated.