July 17, 2011

Debt Ceiling Stand-Off: White House Budget Director Declines to Give Priority to Social Security Checks

Monique Chartier

White House Budget Director Jacob Lew appeared on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley. Kudos to Real Clear Politics for picking up on this part of the interview and transcribing it.

Note that the White House no longer contends that there wouldn't be enough money to issue these checks in the event of a shut-down. Now the question is, are they a priority for the President if such a fiscal triage becomes necessary. Mr. Lew, presumably speaking for his boss, declined five times to indicate that they are.

CNN's Candy Crowley, HOST: "More immediately, you'd have to make some spending priorities -- payment priority decisions: Social Security benefits, and federal worker pay, and defense contractors. What are your priorities should the debt ceiling not be raised on the 2nd, when you have the bills that immediately come due? Social Security checks, federal worker pay, defense contractors?"

Jacob Lew, WH Budget Director: "Our plan is for Congress to do its work and the President to sign into law legislation that will make it possible for the United States as it always has, to keep its obligations. We'll be ready to deal with whatever happens. There is no plan other than meeting our obligations."

CROWLEY: "Surely you must have discussed priorities, though, we have to pay this?"

LEW: "The truth is this is a different situation the United States has ever faced. We've never gone into a situation where we didn't have enough money to pay our bills. We borrow 40 cents on a dollar right now. And if the time comes when we lose the ability to pay our bills, there will be a cash flow issue that is very real, and that's why it's critical that Congress take action before August 2nd."

CROWLEY: "Would you allow it to happen that those the Social Security checks would not go out? Would you allow that to happen?"

LEW: "As the President has indicated, it's not a question of what we allow and what we don't allow --"

CROWLEY: "But you get to decide priorities. There will be some money --"

LEW: "There will not be enough money to pay all the bills."

CROWLEY: "Of course not, that's why I'm talking about priorities."

LEW: "I think that once someone gets into the business of trying to ask about setting priorities it misses the question. Which is that it's unacceptable for the United States to be in a place whether it's Social Security recipients, or a soldier or somebody who is just owed money by the government can't be paid because we have not done our job."

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Lord Hussein now playing game of chicken with SS...did you expect any different? The USA has plenty of tax revenue coming in to cover SS, military salaries, etc. Hussein Obama has come here to fundamentally change the US in his vision. This ploy is part of it. The way you deal with a bully is to punch him in the mouth. It's now the Republicans time to step up and do just that.

Posted by: ANTHONY at July 17, 2011 4:32 PM

Gee haven't the progressives long held that SS is safe till 2036 because the money is in this phantom "Trust Fund"?

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at July 18, 2011 8:09 AM

He can't say that SS checks will be a priority. If he does then all those elderly recipients will stop calling their congressmen. He has to keep those people on the hook along with the welfare recipients. That's his game.

Posted by: Max Diesel at July 18, 2011 8:59 AM

Now that Moe, Larry, and Curley have offered their opinions on complicated national economic policy, we can all relax and expect to see the House Republicans take up their "plan" in coming days.

Posted by: Phil at July 19, 2011 6:03 AM
Gee haven't the progressives long held that SS is safe till 2036 because the money is in this phantom "Trust Fund"?

Yes, that's because it's true. Social Security is funded from the payroll tax, not by the Treasury, has a $2.6 trillion surplus, and is fully funded for the next 25 years. Any Democrat signing on to that "compromise" deserves to be ridden out of town on a rail.

Posted by: Russ at July 21, 2011 12:00 PM
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