There is a climactic scene in the movie "Rebel Without a Cause," in which two enemies play chicken. The sullen hero, Jim (James Dean), races toward a cliff against the bully Buzz (Corey Allen). Whoever jumps out first is deemed a "chicken."
This week, President Obama decided to play chicken. He's so committed to tax hikes that he's willing to drive over a political cliff to get them. Unwilling to compromise on spending and unwilling to cut his beloved stimulus to pay our creditors, President Obama threatened on Tuesday to prevent Social Security checks from going out on Aug. 3. "There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said. That wasn't it, Obama continued. "This is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks, these are folks on disability and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out."
First off, that statistic alone tells us that something is wrong with the country. There are a grand total of 300 million people in the country. If each person receives one check, that means that nearly a quarter of the American population is being paid by the government -- which means they're being paid by fellow taxpayers. And yet Democrats think that statistic isn't high enough -- they want to spend more to up both the size and scope of those checks.
More importantly, however, President Obama's statements that he may have to stop Social Security checks, veterans' checks and disability checks shows just how bankrupt our country is. If we literally don't have the cash to pay those checks out of our current stockpiles, how is borrowing more money going to cure the problem?
There's another problem for Obama, too. By tacitly admitting that government benefit schemes are month-to-month, he's admitting that the underlying structure of these systems is not self-sustaining. That's a major shift for a man who, in August 2010, proclaimed, "Social Security is not in crisis ... We're going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen it." More than modest adjustments are in order if Social Security recipients are one congressional vote from going without their checks.