In the event that the debt ceiling is not raised, the administration gets to decide which bills to pay and which not to pay immediately. Unfortunately, it appears that President Obama isn’t above using this powerful prerogative to score points against the Republicans, even if doing so means harming older citizens who depend on Social Security checks. 

CBS News reports:

It was a striking thing today to see the President of the United States say that he cannot guarantee the 27 million Social Security checks that are due to be mailed on August 3rd.

More than striking, it was sickening. The government has the money to pay Social Security benefits. If it doesn’t pay this bill first it is because the administration has has made other choices. This is the old teachers and firemen tactic–the rush to proclaim that, if spending isn’t increased, the most essential services will be cut. It would be better to shutter some national parks than to traumatize older people.  (Speaking of other options, my colleague Anna Rittgers, who also hopes that the Obama administration will decide against withholding Social Security checks,  has a good piece on how the federal government could raise some money by liquidating assets, including some acquired by TARP.)

Like Carrie, I believe that Social Security is desperately in need of reform (and one could argue that our current predicament makes that point quite vividly!). Still, you’d have to be pretty heartless to hold up Social Security checks. That the president hasn’t already taken steps to protect older people speaks volumes about his character. That sounds harsh, but there is just no way to soften this. What kind of person would play politics at the price of damaging our older citizens?

Let’s  hope the president won’t adopt that course of action.