Obama warns Social Security checks could be delayed if lawmakers don’t reach debt limit agreement soon
President Barack Obama warned that Social Security payments to American retirees could be delayed if lawmakers do not reach an agreement to raise the debt limit in the coming weeks.
“I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,” said Obama during an interview with CBS News. “This is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out.”
Obama’s comments highlight the serious and immediate impacts millions of Americans will suffer if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling before the Treasury runs out of cash on Aug. 2.
Negotiations between Republicans and the White House appeared to have stalled as partisan bickering continued. On Tuesday, Republican House Leader John Boehner attempted to deflect blame on the debt limit stalemate and claimed the responsibility to increase the debt ceiling lies with Obama.
“This debt limit increase is his problem,” Boehner said. “I think it’s time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table. Something that the Congress can pass.”
Boehner’s comment is clearly intended as a political jab at Obama, but the fact remains that raising the debt ceiling is necessary to pay for what Congress has already authorized the federal government to spend.
“The amount of debt that the government must issue to meet its existing legal obligations is determined based on previous spending and revenue decisions made over many years by Congresses and presidents of both parties,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department. “Raising the debt limit simply allows the government to meet those existing legal commitments to investors, seniors, soldiers, and millions of other Americans. Refusing to raise the debt limit does nothing to reduce those existing obligations or cut the deficit.”
Sen. Harry Reid responded to Boehner’s remarks by pointing out that Obama and the Democrats inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit from the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other Bush-era policies, including tax cuts for the wealthy, have continued to add trillions of dollars to the national debt.
“Speaker Boehner seems to have forgotten about the eight years when Republicans turned a surplus into huge deficits with unpaid for taxes from millionaires, unpaid wars, unpaid for drug benefits,” said Reid.
Reid went on to criticize Boehner and the Republicans for repeatedly walking out of debt limit negotiations.
“Walking away from reality is a weakness we cannot afford. It’s a weakness that our economy and our middle-class cannot afford. So I hope Republicans will wake up to that reality and start leading instead of just walking away,” Reid said. “The reality that we have to face is that we have to have shared sacrifices in whatever we do, whatever arrangement we make, to raise the debt ceiling.”
- CBSNews.com: Obama says he cannot guarantee Social Security checks will go out on Aug. 3
- Treasury.gov: Facts about the debt limit
- WhatTheFolly.com: Reid scolds Republicans for walking out on debt limit talks & refusing to address taxes
- WhatTheFolly.com: Boehner says debt limit is Obama’s problem
Category: Analysis, Commentary, Congress, Current Events, Economy, Election 2012, Government, News, Politics, Tax Dollars at Work, Tax Policies, Transcripts, U.S., Wasteful Spending · Tags: balanced budget, budget, Bush administration, Bush tax cuts, debt, debt ceiling, debt limit, default, defaults, drastic budget cuts, federal budget, federal debt, Harry Reid, Iraq, John Boehner, national debt, President Barack Obama, public debt, Social Security, Treasury, Treasury Department, War in Afghanistan