Obama threatens vets’ pensions, Social Security checks

His lips are moving.

In his quest to get the debt ceiling raised, President Obama issued a threat in his Wednesday press conference that troops won’t get paid and veterans’ pension payments will be delayed.  He warned of delays in Social Security payments as well.

It’s important to understand that these comments constitute a threat (which may or may not be a hollow one).  Obama is not stating some inescapable reality, to which he along with the rest of us is subject.  If retirees and vets see a delay in their payments, it will be because Obama himself decides to hold the payments up.  Moreover, Obama is not caught in a trap when it comes to paying the troops; he can make sure they get paid, if it’s his priority to do so.

The payments to retirees are going to go out unless Obama stops them.  The debt ceiling doesn’t prevent those payments from being made.  It requires that other types of federal expenditures – current-year operating expenses like federal purchases, welfare outlays, payrolls, etc – be suspended or managed differently.

The two Social Security Trust Funds (one for old-age benefits and one for disability benefits) had nearly $2.7 trillion in assets at the end of fiscal year 2011, the most recent for which a trustees’ report is posted online.  The funds are used every year to ensure obligated pay-outs to beneficiaries, and have been borrowed against many times by Congress, under routine fiscal circumstances.  While repayment of any amount expended during a government shut-down should be part of a debt-ceiling deal, the trusts allow Social Security payments to be made on time during a shut-down – unless Obama decides against that.

Likewise, the Military Retirement Fund had about $428 billion in total assets at the end of fiscal year 2012, three-and-a-half months ago.  The fund’s assets can certainly be used to make on-time pension payments to veterans in early 2013 – again, with a repayment plan as part of the debt-ceiling deal.  In fact, military retired pay is already programmed for electronic distribution throughout FY2013; it takes active intervention to prevent it from being distributed.

Active-duty military pay is a current-year expenditure, and would be directly jeopardized by a government shut-down.  But whether or not the troops get paid is up to Obama’s leadership.  He could agree with Congress to set aside enough to pay the troops while the negotiations continue – a move that could well require cutting or suspending expenditures elsewhere in the federal government, in order to remain under the debt ceiling until a deal was reached.

Obama could also get a read from his attorneys on the precedents for and propriety of borrowing against one of the big trust funds to meet the uniformed payroll during the government crisis.  Paying the troops, especially when the military is forward-deployed and much of it is in combat in Afghanistan, ought to be politically unifying.  It’s hard to imagine Congress trying to impeach or otherwise hobble Obama over the actions he might take to ensure the troops are paid.

What Obama is doing, in effect, is issuing threats about what he will do, if Republicans don’t give him what he wants.  But he’s representing the threats as a consequence for which the GOP lawmakers would be responsible.

This kind of mendacious demagoguery flourishes when the press is biased and/or cowed, and fails to challenge the political leaders.  Every appeal from the leadership gets to be emotional; government is discussed in unaccountable, irrational, and even hysterical terms, as when the president postulated, in his speech on gun restrictions during the same press conference, that the victims of mass shootings had been “denied their rights” by the shooters.  The distinction between committing crimes against individuals, which the citizens can do, and denying the people’s rights – which only government can do – is one of the most important concepts underlying the American system of government.  But Obama elided it out of existence on Wednesday, in his quest to depict the use of firearms as, principally, a means of injuring others.

Parse, parse, parse, my friends.  This president doesn’t speak in the terms of American political philosophy, which holds government and its leaders accountable for meanings both philosophical and practical.  It is not our practice, in American government, to shrug off misleading demagoguery.  That’s not “business as usual” for us.  Our president is supposed to bind himself to constitutional meanings.  He is supposed to depict the actions of government honestly.  It’s a big deal that this one doesn’t.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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45 thoughts on “Obama threatens vets’ pensions, Social Security checks”

  1. And we will hear worse. Again, this is the sort of thing that occurs when you allow yourself (I mean the whole country, everyone’s responsible) to go so deeply into debt. I give it two more years before the damage this fiscal irresponsibility creates, finally forces the politicians to seriously deal with the problem. By then, a lot more people’s livelihoods will have been hurt..

    One positive news item, I believe we are now the world’s largest oil producer again. What a shame that we cannot get our government spending under control.

  2. “It is not our practice, in American government, to shrug off misleading demagoguery. ”

    And nevertheless, it is like traveling in the desert and being surprised to find sand in your soup. With the press and the would-be social engineers allied, it is becoming an everyday thing. People come to accept it as normal, and no longer take notice.

  3. In any relationship, including the one between Obama and the Republican members of Congress, the side that cares the least has the power. Obama could care less about members of the military, military retirees or social security recipients. He knows that in any confrontation, the mass media will support him and portray all negative repercussions and circumstances as solely the fault of Republicans. He also knows that half the public is inclined to believe whatever characterization that the left cares to place upon circumstances. There’s little that the Republican’s can do as the choices are capitulation and shared responsibility or being once again thoroughly demonized.

    The Republican’s latest ploy is to highlight the lack of a budget by tying a 3 month rise in the debt ceiling to Senate submission of a budget. Good luck with that. America watched Obama do jack about the debt for four years and then reelected him.

    In general, Americans are so intellectually confused that “even after the 2012 election in which Americans re-elected most of the sitting members of the U.S. House and Senate — as is typical in national elections — three-quarters of Americans say that, given the opportunity, they would vote “for” term limits for members of both houses of Congress.”

    “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” A. Lincoln

  4. this is the kind of half-baked stuff that ignores the context of the thing, wherein the Republican Party has been waging an enormous spit – flinging campaign for quite some time, that you might do well to avoid.

    close parsing of the president’s rhetorical threats rather than the examination of the whole raft of threats to which he’s responding is akin to you picking bits of straw out of the manure pile and calling the straw unclean.

    1. BTW, responding to valid criticism (you didn’t disagree with TOC’s perception that Obama is threatening Republicans with what he’ll do if they don’t raise the debt ceiling) by saying, “well the other guys are worse!” is not rebuttal, when unsubstantiated. And even if you can substantiate it, two wrongs do not a right make.

      We all know that Obama has no intention of cutting entitlements or lessening spending. He’ll continue to direct the Fed to print money, devaluing the dollar and raising the debt to levels that guarantee sovereign bankruptcy.

      By what rational do you condone that?

        1. figuring out that the prez is making threats without pointing out that he’s responding to threats with other threats ain’t exactly really valid criticism or exactly the sophisticated analysis of which our hostess is capable.

          this is all bullshit political posturing and not something worth taking too seriously at this point.

          the Republicans have been waging a war of threats and they’re getting called on it. that’s the sum of it.

          1. No budget in four years, a clear and undeniable violation of the law.

            Unsustainable and ever increasing debt levels.

            Ongoing devaluation of the dollar.

            A 20% increase in Americans collecting federal disability insurance with one person now collecting disability in this county for every 13 people working full-time. Forty-two years ago, there were 51 people working full-time in this country for each person collecting disability. Just one of many indicators of the growing entitlement state.

            All federal revenue is fully consumed by three programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Every other federal expenditure is now ‘paid’ for through credit and debt. And Obama has stated that he wants to increase spending and raise the debt.

            President Obama’s Jobs Council hasn’t met in over a year, yet he found time for 699 Speeches with a Teleprompter; 113 Golf Outings and 13 Vacations and 591 Media interviews…in 2012 he found time for over 100 rounds of golf but couldn’t find time to meet with his jobs council.

            But by your lights, when republicans object, he’s simply responding to republican ‘threats’…

            Right. You’re an apologist and a hypocrite.

              1. Nice try at obfuscation fuster. If Obama wanted a budget, Reid’s Senate would have produced one. The buck absolutely stops at Obama on this one and you know it, which further reinforces your hypocrisy and apologia.

                1. the Senate doesn’t pass budgets, GoB, the Congress does.

                  and which branch of Congress has the responsibility for originating all bills concerning revenue?

                  1. Either out of ignorance or duplicitous obfuscation, you’ve once again misstated the facts fuster.

                    The House puts together a budget and then sends it on to the Senate for either confirmation or suggested modifications. If modified, it is then sent back to the House for either confirmation or further modifications. That process continues, back and forth until both chambers are in agreement. The bill is then voted upon in both chambers, if passed by both chambers, it is sent on to the President, who may sign it, veto it or not sign it, while waiting until the signing period has passed, in which case the Bill passes into law without a Presidential signature.

                    The democrats as you know but clearly wish the rest of us didn’t, had full control of both chambers in 2009 & 2010. No budget passed out of the house in those years. In 2011 and 2012 the House sent budgets to the Senate, where they languished in committee, with the majority under Reid refusing to even attend Senate Finance committee meetings.

                    The lack of a budget is entirely upon Obama and the democrats.

                    “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own [set of] facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynahan

    2. Close parsing of the Presidents rhetorical threats. Well, there you have it folks. If one pays very close attention to the pretend threats, one will understand the entire process. The pretend President does indeed pretend to do things. He pretends to talk about doing things. He pretends he cares. He pretends to call meetings in order to pretend to say real things in a pretend sort of way for people who pretend to be proud of their room temperature IQ.
      The pretend President is running out the clock for the second half in order to retire and pretend all the things he could have done if only everyone could have pretended with him.
      The Pres. The Pretender to be an extender.
      Lets call a panel in on that shall we? Next!

  5. I would have thought the President was pointing out to the Republicans the double-standards of their posturing with regard to public-spending. – i.e. That the Republicans think public spending is perfectly ok as long as it is public spending on causes and folks the Republicans like, and not on programmes and Americans they hate and despise.

    It would take a very fevered or poisoned imagination to interpret the President’s speech as some sort of threat to cut off payments to vets and the old, specifically, and leave other spending programmes untouched.

    1. Your comment is proof positive that thinking is not your forte.

      By your logic, progressives hate and despise our military, since that’s the only program they’re really willing to cut. Despite democrat’s rhetoric, business can’t be added to the programs democrats are willing to cut, as wall street, ‘green companies’ and union companies have done quite well under Obama. And the only fevered and poisoned imagination being employed here is the ones you and fuster are using to deny the obvious.

      1. Geoffrey, the president has no desire to cut vets benefits. THAT’S not what his comment is about.
        what he is saying is that the Repubs aren’t gonna use the threat to shut it all down and still expect that the Dems are gonna allow them to exempt the entitlements of the military.

        His basic position is everybody gets their benefits continued

        1. Nice try at reversal of the facts, fuster. Whether out of ignorance or intellectual dishonesty doesn’t really matter, since you refuse to educate yourself. By refusing to look past the end of your nose you are complicit in the left’s ongoing destruction of America.

          1. GoB—- and perhaps you’re complicit in the ongoing erosion of American intelligence, education and wisdom, although I’m sure that you are doing the best that you can and don’t actively wish to harm the nation.

            bless your little heart.

            1. Stop projecting fuster. You’re only digging the philosophical hole deeper within which you reside. As for wisdom, you regularly reject it. Evidently you fail to recognize that intelligence and education have little to do with discernment, without which wisdom cannot develop.

              1. had I not recognized that intelligence and education are not wisdom, I would not have taken the trouble to list wisdom as something that you additionally fail to display.

    2. Pauls comments are always proof that atoms are really far apart. There is nothing there but space in between. Also Pauls curious and repetitive circular thinking will not cease until parallel lines cross in infinety.
      On a lighter note, I have heard that Obama will be chosen the MVP in the SuperBowl. I read this morning that Sec. Clinton has congratulated the Algerian Security Forces for having a very light carbon footprint while attacking terrorists positions over the weekend.
      I think one more apology tour in the MidEast by the Super Bowl MVP should take care of all this Islamic Terrorist stuff. I mean really, the Jews should stop all this trouble in North Africa.
      And everyone, please pray that Sec. Clinton doesn’t slip and fall again. A lack of balance concerning the Secretary of State is really not a good thing.

      1. Refreshing detour to avoid the facts. Say!!!! No wonder you like the MVP President! And on the note of diversion, did everyone notice that Everyones payroll taxes went up. Now that would be a tax increase on more than the top 1% wouldn’t it.
        But of course it is just canceling the Bush (all his fault) payroll tax cuts. So in effect, we are back to where we were. So really, there is no tax increase for the middle class, you just get less net money in your paycheck. So it is okay. That is so progressive.
        The Borg MVP President. It is great for the collective. Particularly those in power.

        1. anyone notice that there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

          it turns out that if you cut taxes and then spend 10 years and a couple of trillion bucks waging wars, you run into a tiny little fiscal shortfall and some economic problems

          1. Nice try. That “couple of trillion bucks” was under Bush but according to PolitiFact, “Deficit spending ‘exploded during the Obama administration’ to $5.3 trillion over four years, compared to $2 trillion in eight years under President George W. Bush”. And 72% of the casualties that have occurred in Afghanistan happened while Obama was President.

            By your own standards and rationale, Obama bears far more of the blame. But not a word of criticism from you for Obama…

            Only more hypocrisy.

          2. Fuster, 47% of the American people receive Federal Handouts and/or pay no federal taxes. The top 5% of earners pay 40% of Federal taxes.
            How much redistribution is enough.
            The president has no interest in dealing with entitlement spending because he was re-elected by people interested in receiving government largesse, money,credits,food stamps,child credits for people with too many children, home loans people can’t afford(backed up by the taxpayer ), bailing out the UAW,overpaying unionized Federal Workers etc. etc.
            He understands the debt problem is about 15 years away from hitting the fan. He can just be present and really cool. All the problems were caused before him and will be solved by people who come after him. It’s a great gig. He is in fact on the Federal
            Dole because he does not wish to work for a living. He is the consumate freeloader.

            1. The Onion published an article about “The Americans With No Abilities Act” some time back. It has been updated at thecube.com.
              Why should a small minority of well motivated,self starters that take risks and work hard be allowed to have more success than the lazy,dim witted,un-educated (by their own choice) folks that enjoy living off the labors of the said minority.

                  1. no, and I wouldn’t. having Japanese often visiting and half-Japanese family members living with us means that it’s almost always loose green tea brewed up when it’s tea

                    1. Real bummer Fuster. I am afraid my only personal Asian connection is to sit mesmerized by Susan Li and her morning report from Hong Kong (6pm OKC time).

            2. “How much redistribution is enough.”?

              It will never be enough. Income taxes of 99% won’t be enough. Seizing all of the rich’s assets won’t be enough. Even sending ‘the rich’ to today’s version of the guillotine won’t be enough.

              Many American’s thoroughly believe that the rich are evil (except for the entertainers and athletes they like) and that if it were not for their prior and continuing evil actions, the country would be far more wealthy. So when the money runs out, the rich must still be punished.

              When the money starts to run out, facts, reason and logic have no place in dissuading these people from their beliefs because poverty itself is seen as injustice and it then becomes about the need for a scapegoat and revenge, all in service of avoiding any personal responsibility and accountability.

              France’s “Reign of Terror” not only can happen here, it will happen if the left takes over because that is where socialism always leads. When “other people’s money” runs out, those entitled don’t, indeed cannot believe it has happened, so they look to the ‘hidden’, “ill gotten” gains of ‘the haves’ and they rationalize in order to further justify even greater theft.

              When even that money runs out, which of course it must with more consumers than producers… they still don’t believe that there’s just no more money, that it has all been spent. In anger and frustration, they lash out at the former ‘haves’ and the public’s ‘guillotine’ once again does its bloody work.

              Human nature and the Ponzi scheme that is socialism guarantee this outcome.

              But it doesn’t end there, the ‘strong man’ is enlisted to save them all and the tyrant rises to power. Just as Napoleon did and the tyrant looks outward to conquest, to ‘better the lives’ of those he rules…

              It has ever been so, the natural consequence of the entitlement state.

  6. Some day I suspect the OTC will “come out” and admit she was writing this stuff as an exercise in seeing how many people would be sufficiently dim-witted to believe she was serious.

    I have now had the opportunity of reading a transcript of the President’s speech. There is no earthly way a sentient person could read into this speech – either expressly, or by implication – that he was threatening vet’s pensions or social security checks. If the OTC in her former life had been handed this speech, and asked, as an exercise, to write an analysis and synopsis, and she had produced this headline and subsequent nonsense, she would have been transferred by her superiors to the Aleutan Islands to spend the rest of her career analysing the security aspects of whale-song.

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