- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2011


President Obama and congressional Democrats have resorted to scaring seniors and soldiers in order to extract trillions in new borrowing and spending authority from timid Republicans. Some GOP members and even conservative pundits already are raising the white flag now that the debt talks appear beyond repair. It’s time for them to show some backbone. Fortunately, there are others in the party willing to fight.

Mr. Obama told CBS News on Tuesday that he cannot “guarantee that those [retirement benefit] 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.” He didn’t stop there, adding that “this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans’ checks, these are folks on disability and their checks.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney referred to a movie about a mother deciding which of her children to send to death in the Holocaust to make his point. “We have obligations that exceed the money we take in,” Mr. Carney said. “That would then entail a kind of ‘Sophie’s Choice’ situation where you have to decide what bills you can pay.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn warned GOP candidates on Wednesday that the White House may send out letters to entitlement program recipients and military servicemen claiming that they may not be paid after Aug. 2.

“President Obama has resorted to scaring seniors with the threat that Social Security checks won’t go out,” Mr. Cornyn told The Washington Times. “If they do not go out, that will be the president’s decision.”

To make that fact even clearer, Rep. Steve King introduced a bill Wednesday that would set spending priorities once the debt limit is reached. It would require that the military be paid first and then the interest on the debt. “Those two things would consume about 15.2 percent of our revenue stream; there’s still a lot of money left over for the president’s discretion to play political games,” the Iowa Republican explained.

GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, a co-sponsor of Mr. King’s bill, said it is “simply untrue” that the country will default if Congress doesn’t lift the borrowing limit. “President Obama is holding the full faith and credit hostage so he can continue his spending spree,” the Minnesota Republican said.

She’s right. The U.S. Treasury’s latest monthly accounting statement shows it took in $146 billion in revenue in May and spent $286 billion. Of that total, $27 billion went to military personnel, $49 billion to Social Security beneficiaries and $24 billion for interest on the debt.

So if the debt ceiling does not go up, the government would have to cut back by about $150 billion a month but still would have money to cover the essential bills. After paying seniors, the military and interest, the feds still would have about $46 billion to spread around. That’s about $140 billion less than Democrats insist on spending, but they’re refusing to make further cuts without increasing taxes.

Republicans were afraid to shut down the government when the stakes were low during budget talks earlier this year. They need to take a stand now and force Democrats to choose between putting the government on a massive $1 trillion crash diet or accepting modest, permanent reforms to the entitlement programs that are bankrupting this country.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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