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Under debt ceiling shadow, S.C. waits

Federal courts and the military — the largest federal presence in South Carolina — likely would not be affected by a partial federal shutdown if Congress and the president can’t reach a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

But it is unclear whether Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, veterans benefits or other federal spending would be affected.

“We’ve heard nothing at this point,” said Elliott Cooper, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “We’ve absolutely heard nothing.”

House Republicans and Senate Democrats are locked in unfruitful negotiations to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and avoid the country not being able to pay some of its bills.

On Monday, the two sides were working on their own plans:

The Democrats want a plan to leave Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid untouched, but cutting other spending over time while making provisions to raise the debt ceiling periodically in the future. But Republicans are dug in for provisions that would cap the debt ceiling and require the federal government to have a balanced budget.

Republicans want a plan that would raise the debt ceiling for one year. But President Barack Obama said he would veto any legislation that doesn’t put the debt ceiling debate to bed until 2013.

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s 32,000-plus federal workers are watching the news closely and waiting for some kind of word from on high.

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