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.
Seniors should also realize at this point that the growth of government has bankrupted them. The money they gave the government over the course of their lives to be put in some mythical lockbox somewhere, some misnamed "trust fund," is gone. That magical "trust fund" is nothing of the kind -- it is a financial structure full of IOUs. The cash was raided long ago, distributed to other seniors, other unemployed people, other government dependants. America's benefits system is no longer self-funded. It is China-funded.
President Obama has now embraced a binary choice: either he can screw current taxpayers or he can screw past taxpayers. Those who depend on their Social Security check to pay the rent are now being asked to suffer a double burden: The burden of paying their original Social Security tax as well as the burden of forgoing their expected return. The alternative is asking those who currently pay taxes to suffer a double burden: paying a higher tax rate and then forgoing their check somewhere down the road. Or, of course, President Obama can elide the choice altogether by placing the burden on future generations.
He'd like to choose the third option. But dastardly Republicans are stopping him from dumping fiscal insolvency on our children and grandchildren. Unwilling to fundamentally rethink his governmental approach, Obama has now been forced into this game of chicken. And he has made his choice: seniors, who are more conservative than younger voters and who donate less money to political campaigns, will pay the price.
There's only one problem for President Obama: Those seniors have children and grandchildren. And we don't like to see our grandparents paying the price for President Obama's fiscal irresponsibility. The answer here is simple: cut government and pay what is owed, both to our foreign creditors and to those citizens who paid into the system -- and free Americans to pursue their own business in the process.
Unfortunately for Buzz, his jacket ends up looped around the car door handle. Then he ends up plummeting over the cliff. Boom. President Obama's current position, in which he has handcuffed himself to his high-spending agenda, means that he will meet Buzz's fate politically.