Earlier this week, President Obama warned that he “cannot guarantee” that Social Security checks will go out on schedule on Aug. 3 if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2. As a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center laid out, “the government likely would not have enough revenue to pay the full $23 billion payment to Social Security recipients due on Aug. 3″ were the debt ceiling not raised, because of the high amount of Social Security payments that are due that day.
Two days ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) criticized Obama for employing this rhetoric. “We were all shocked and appalled that President Obama dangled out in front of the cameras that senior citizens may not get their checks. That is a very dangerous statement to make,” Bachmann said, calling on the President to “tell the truth.”
Republicans have put forth the theory that Social Security is not subject to debt ceiling limitations because it is financed by payroll taxes. But it seems like Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) agrees with Obama, and not his GOP colleagues, on this one. During an interview last night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Boehner agreed that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, Social Security is one of the programs that is on the chopping block:
VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman Bachmann talked to me last night about Social Security, because that wa one of the things the President said, said something about, come August 2nd, you know, maybe the checks won’t go out. Does the money from the Social Security come from a different account essentially, so that even if we do hit the debt ceiling and there is still some government shutdown, those checks still go out because the revenue from them is from people working?
BOEHNER: Ohhh, I don’t believe so. At the end of the day, it all comes out of the general fund, and the general fund is expected to be out of cash come August 3rd or August 4th, and then the Treasury Secretary would have to make decisions on what to pay and what not to pay.
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) this week called on Obama to “quit lying” about Social Security. “You know darn well that if Aug. 2, comes and goes there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all Social Security obligations,” Walsh said. Maybe Boehner should drop him a line.