The president said it again today. If we don't raise the debt ceiling "we won't be able to send out Social Security checks, cover Medicare costs or pay veteran's benefits." He knows this generates the most fear.
Don't raise it.
My suggestion for priorities: If there's not enough money to go around let's suspend payments in the following order.
1. Hold the presidential salary.
2. Suspend White House expenses (vacations etc.).
3. Ground Air Force One. (He needs to stay on the job anyway.)
4 Suspend congressional salaries.
5. Suspend Congressional staff salaries.
6. Suspend all Cabinet-level offices and staff salaries.
7. Suspend all foreign aid.
8. Suspend all EPA expenditures.
9. Suspend all federal grants to universities
This might not be enough to fix the problem, but I'd bet the problem would get fixed quickly.