On Tuesday, Obama Administration officials met with representatives of veterans groups in an effort to frighten them – just as the President did with seniors earlier in July – into believing that the Republicans would endanger their benefits in the event America defaulted on its debt.
Although Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, said she believes the military will continue to be paid in the event of a default, officials said the plan being worked on by House Speaker John Boehner “would endanger veterans benefits,” according to Joseph R. Chenelly of the Disabled American Veterans.
“They said the president understood veterans’ anxiety and regretted it,” he said, the Washington Post reported.
According to the Post:
Tuesday’s meeting came on the eve of an online protest meant to protect veteran benefits during the debt crisis negotiations. DAV, the nation’s largest group representing disabled veterans and their families, is organizing a “virtual march on Washington” on Facebook for Wednesday.
Thousands of virtual marchers have registered for the online protest, according to the DAV. Though it will take place primarily on Facebook, links to participate will also be available at http://www.dav.org and on Twitter, using the hashtag #March4Vets, organizers said.
Not all veterans were pleased with the announcement.
WVMS-59 of West Virginia, reported that Korean War veteran David Hern called the announcement “despicable.”
“The fact that the President comes out and threatens to take away our social security checks and not pay the veterans is despicable,” he said, according to WVMS.
“The power will be shut off. A lot of them won’t be able to make their payments on their homes, their cars. Their credit will be destroyed because it will take months to get back on track. It will be a disaster,” Hern added.
Wallace E. Tyson, the National Commander of DAV expressed his displeasure at becoming a “political pawn” in the debate.
“It is outrageous that disabled veterans have become political pawns in the fight over how to increase the government’s borrowing authority,” he said in a statement.
The reality is that the nation does have enough coming in to pay Social Security and veterans – even if the deadline for default is passed. If veterans and seniors do not get thier checks, it will be because the administration orders it, a point made by Rush Limbaugh earlier this week:
You need to tell your friends the money is there. You need to tell your friends that if you don’t get your checks and this debt ceiling doesn’t go up, the one-word answer is Obama. Only he can stop it. Now, you’re gonna get a lot of ridicule and you’re gonna have a lot of your gummer buddies yelling and shouting at you. I want you to tell ’em, the mechanism is there, selling Treasury bonds, Social Security trust fund has $2.4 trillion in Treasury bonds which the trustees are legally entitled to redeem whenever Social Security is running an account deficit, meaning running out of money. So with somebody who is honest and constitutional running the show, you will get your check.
Limbaugh also said the President was engaging in “economic terrorism” by lying to senior citizens.
Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary for Social Security, told GOP Rep Tim Huelskamp that the decision to not pay those checks rested with the administration:
“The responsibility of the Social Security Administration per se, my boss, Commissioner Astrue, is to in fact determine how much in the way of benefit payments people are supposed to receive,” Goss said.
“We send that information actually over to the Department of the Treasury. They are the ones who actually send out the payments, whether it’s electronic funds, transfers, or check.”
On Wednesday, all 53 Senate Democrats – including Washington’s Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner saying, in effect, they would rather see the nation’s economy destroyed than pass his compromise deal to raise the debt ceiling and keep America solvent.
If veterans and senior do not get their checks in August, the fault will not lie with the Republicans – it will lie with the President and his administration.
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