WASHINGTON – When Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner claimed Social Security payments were threatened by a refusal by Congress to raise the debt limit, he was “flat-out lying,” says the organizer of a campaign to freeze the nation’s borrowing at $14.3 trillion.
In a letter to Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., disclosed over the weekend, Geithner claimed freezing the debt limit would result in less revenue for Social Security, according to the letter.
“If the United States were forced to stop, limit, or delay payment on obligations to which the nation has already committed – such as military salaries, Social Security and Medicare … there would be a massive and abrupt reduction in federal outlays and aggregate demand,” the letter said.
Joseph Farah, the force behind the “No More Red Ink” campaign, an online, grass-roots lobbying effort to persuade House Republicans to freeze the debt limit, says Geithner’s claim is “provably wrong” and suggests he should resign as treasury secretary if he doesn’t understand why.
“Whether you like Social Security or not, it’s an established fact that it does not operate on borrowed money, it does not contribute a dime to the deficit and the fund has a surplus,” said Farah. “This is sheer political mau-mauing by Geithner – the guy who had trouble filling out his own tax return.”
By law Social Security cannot use borrowed money. It is supported by three sources:
- payroll contributions from employers and employees;
- interest earned on Social Security’s U.S. Treasury bond assets;
- income taxes on the Social Security benefits paid by those with higher incomes.
Last week the Social Security trustees released their Annual Trustees Report for 2011 and it showed a $69.3 billion surplus for this year. Surpluses are projected for the next 25 years.
“How can Geithner make such outlandish and irresponsible claims without being refuted?” wonders Farah. “I fear the answer is that both Republicans and Democrats want the federal government to keep borrowing and are willing to justify it with any excuse – whether true or not.”
Farah’s lobbying effort is directed exclusively at House Republicans because they have the power to freeze the debt limit without any assistance from Democrats, the Senate or the White House.
“Republicans keep persuading Americans they are in favor of big cuts in spending by Washington,” Farah said. “But it’s time for them to live up to their rhetoric now that they have the power. They don’t need to bicker with Democrats. They don’t need to argue with Barack Obama. They just need to say no to raising the debt limit. That will require the biggest cuts in spending in a generation and a return to constitutionally limited government in Washington. Isn’t that what they told us they supported?”
So far the “No More Red Ink” campaign has sent about 1 million red letters to House Republicans, winning over the majority of them to the freeze idea. But it will take at least 218 votes in the House to stop the raising of the debt limit in August, with Republicans controlling 241 votes.
“We’re almost there,” said Farah. “One way or another, we’re going to find out whether Republican House members will represent the 79 percent of Republican voters who support a borrowing freeze or whether they will support the Washington political establishment and spend without accountability. I believe with a continued outpouring of letters, we can persuade Republican House members that it is political suicide for them to stand with Obama and the Democrats.”
Farah says this is the only meaningful action House Republicans can take in this session of Congress, besides opposing tax increases.
“How big is this?” he asks rhetorically. “Saying no to more debt is the same as saying no to Obamacare, unconstitutional departments and agencies, NPR and PBS funding, Planned Parenthood funding and about $1 trillion of wasteful and immoral spending each year. It also balances the budget this year. That’s why the overwhelming number of Americans of both parties support this dramatic move.”