Video: Social Security chief actuary confirms a decision to withhold checks would come from the Treasury

posted at 6:40 pm on July 13, 2011 by Tina Korbe

I’ve been a fan of Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp for a while now. This video of his excellent line of questioning during a Budget Committee hearing this morning shows why:

Don’t you just love how calm and cheerful he is, as he hammers away at the truth? Even Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, couldn’t help but smile as Huelskamp asked for his help getting to the bottom of why Social Security checks might not go out Aug. 3, when the nation clearly has enough money — even under a debt limit budget — to cover the interest on its debt, Social Security and more (Huelskamp even had the chart to prove it!).

Goss confirmed the decision to send out Social Security checks (or not) would, indeed, be a Treasury Department (a.k.a. the administration’s) decision.

“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.”

At that point, Huelskamp called out — in an admirably wry, polite way (a question is far friendlier than an accusation!) — what everybody in that hearing room already knew:

“I guess we’ll have to ask the Department of the Treasury and we’re having difficulty getting answers from them, but I see under no circumstances unless it was a political decision that the administration would refuse or withhold Social Security checks because there are sufficient receipts,” Huelskamp says in the video. “Can I ask you to ask the Treasury Department — because the administration just really doesn’t want to provide information and when you stand on the evening news and make a statement that 40-some million Americans are going to not receive their checks — would you ask the administration are they planning on withholding those checks and is there a reason they wouldn’t make those payments on Aug. 3?”

Goss said he’d be happy to work with Huelskamp to find an answer to his questions. Can’t wait to hear ‘em.

 


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I’m sure raaaaacism is involved somewhere.

malclave on July 13, 2011 at 6:42 PM

Blackmailing Social Security recipients is just another show of pure incompetence in the White House.

volsense on July 13, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Well, sure, some Republicans in Congress retain their testicles… The problem is that the GOP leaders and “elite” have exchanged theirs for the hope that their days in power will never end…

Jeddite on July 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Yowza

gophergirl on July 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

Because I won. Because I want to. And because I can.

The only 3 reasons He needs.

Lily on July 13, 2011 at 6:46 PM

However, PBHO has said that ag subsidies would continue to be funded even if he had to pay them out of his own pocket.

Oldsters? You people will be pushed into the Snake River to form the world’s first human-corpse bridge.

Bishop on July 13, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Tim Geithner wants to kill Grandma!

Emperor Norton on July 13, 2011 at 6:47 PM

As much as it would hurt those that depend on SS, we would be rid of Barry forever if those checks went out just a few days late. Same goes for those welfare checks and link cards.

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Nice. Obama a jackass and a lair.

taney71 on July 13, 2011 at 6:48 PM

SoundByte Americans never hear this exchange.

This means nothing beyond the Echo Chamber here.

PappyD61 on July 13, 2011 at 6:48 PM

People should pay attention to this kind of thing. This is just a rehearsal for when the money really does dry up.

BigWyo on July 13, 2011 at 6:51 PM

SoundByte Americans never hear this exchange.

This means nothing beyond the Echo Chamber here.

PappyD61 on July 13, 2011 at 6:48 PM

I swear I was thinking the same thing. Right now it mind as well be floating in space.

Scoreboard44 on July 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM

You know dang well that CBS was told to ask him that question.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM

The alphabet networks will be sure to provide full coverage of this exchange the latest news about Prince William and his new bride whats-her-face meeting J-Lo.

Bishop on July 13, 2011 at 6:54 PM

You know dang well that CBS was told to ask him that question.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM

And how many heart attacks like the one that upinak’s grandmother suffered, did this heartless threat cause?

kingsjester on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Dems are just evil, aren’t they? My God I’ve never seen such manipulation in my life. Not even in my soap opera watching days.

capejasmine on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Obooba: Si se puede!

Shay on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Special Report says the meeting ended with Obama walking out abruptly. He has nix any short term increase and wants everything completed by Friday. The King has spoken.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

This is boring and not entertaining to most people. The people who will not see something like this or understand it will not see it and will never see it, and when their checks stop coming they will stand there at their mailboxes and wonder what the hell happened.

Obama will point a finger, the mainstream media will bow and the Republicans will again look like the bad guys.

The Taylor machine works to this day.

Scoreboard44 on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

kingsjester on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

We will probably never know but according to Sen. McCain, the seniors were melting the phones.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Th petulant man-child must have had a hissy fit.

kingsjester on July 13, 2011 at 6:58 PM

The only 3 reasons He needs.

Lily on July 13, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Boiled down a bit: Because no one has the testicular structure to stand up to our treasonous punk of a president.

I still maintain that if Osama Obama weren’t a Historic First© there would currently be at least five impeachment resolutions working their way through Congress, and the lifted-pinky tea-sippers of the “conservative” chattering class would be calling for his ouster.

We’ll soon see the destructive power of affirmative action run amok, I think….

MrScribbler on July 13, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Blackmailing Social Security recipients is just another show of pure incompetence in the White House.

volsense on July 13, 2011 at 6:43 PM

They’re not being blackmailed. They’re being held hostage so that Obama can blackmail the Republicans.

ProfessorMiao on July 13, 2011 at 7:02 PM

You know dang well that CBS was told to ask him that question.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM

Don’t know if you saw my post from this morning on a Headlines thread, but C-BS “News” has apparently officially pulled the plug on their Fast and Furious story, now that the trail is getting closer to Dear Leader.

C-BS’s Sharyl Atkisson broke the F & F story about 6 months ago, and had been reporting regularly on the story ever since. Until June 29, which was the date of her final report on the story.

5 days later, the head of the ATF testified in secret to Issa’s Committee, after which said Committee sent Holder a very strongly worded letter. C-BS hasn’t covered the story at all since, and Atkisson was absent from the C-BS “News” Website for 2 weeks. Annual Vacation, or Re-Education?

She suddenly reappeared earlier this week-she’s been moved by C-BS to a much more important investigation, namely some sort of scandal at the 50 year old “People to People Program” started by Ike.

Heady stuff indeed.

Del Dolemonte on July 13, 2011 at 7:03 PM

“Can I ask you to ask the Treasury Department — because the administration just really doesn’t want to provide information

Sing the refrain of “Miss Me Yet” to GWBush whose departing Executive Order granted the Office of the Treasury Secretary complete autonomy, beholden to no one, particularly no longer under the authority of the Congress.

“Constitution? I don’t need no Constitution” is the bipartisan shared value system of elitist authoritarians.

maverick muse on July 13, 2011 at 7:04 PM

Special Report says the meeting ended with Obama walking out abruptly. He has nix any short term increase and wants everything completed by Friday. The King has spoken.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

And the panel pretty much agreed that Boehner needs to get their original plan on the floor and get voted on asap.

That tosses it back to Barry and Reid, right? Let him choke on it.

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM

You know…

… If I were running for President of the United States, I would take this, and in a VERY PUBLIC WAY, slap Obowma across the face with his lie.

But that’s just me…

Seven Percent Solution on July 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM

And how many heart attacks like the one that upinak’s grandmother suffered, did this heartless threat cause?

kingsjester on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

People are still talking about BO’s threat. It isn’t working well for him. In fact, rumors are circulating that food stamps won’t be funded this month. One woman said that he wants people starving in the streets.

I think he shot himself in the foot this time.

Cody1991 on July 13, 2011 at 7:07 PM

In other words, if expenses (to the Government) exceed revenues, and the Government can no longer borrow, it’s Treasury which decides who gets paid and who doesn’t. Is Obama willing to throw 47 million Grandmas and Grandpas over the cliff to pay for his Porkulus and ObamaCare and Green Energy and Government Motors Bailouts and other wasteful spending?

Maybe not…which is why perhaps he should be put to the test…what ARE his spending priorities if he can’t borrow?

Steve Z on July 13, 2011 at 7:08 PM

I’m ripped by the utter failure of this president to act like a president of all the people of this country. When he was elected we were all asked to forget partisan politics and give him a chance. That lasted 2 days. He has done nothing but implement one socialist program after another. Now he insults seniors, vets and our military by threatening to with hold checks in Aug. Makes me wonder what he has up his sleeve for the next year and a half.

Kissmygrits on July 13, 2011 at 7:09 PM

Obama knows that the GOP establishment politicians are already the third party and is exploiting the Tea Party support by showing how utterly clueless the GOP leadership has become. Time to flush these old RINOs and let Rubio, West, Lee, and many, many others to take center stage.

volsense on July 13, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM

I agree they need to go ahead and pass something. I’m sick of hearing how the Republicans have lost the narrative. It’s not a freaking novel or a game you bunch of dummies in D.C. Obviously that last part is not directed at you, Knucklehead.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 7:11 PM

I can’t believe the most liberal, compassionate president evah is going to throw grandma over the cliff just to win a political point.

Hopenchange!

HellCat on July 13, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Del Dolemonte on July 13, 2011 at 7:03 PM

I didn’t see that, very very interesting.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Don’t you want to see your lock box?

tarpon on July 13, 2011 at 7:14 PM

I didn’t see that, very very interesting.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 7:13 PM

It’s not interesting Cindy, it’s downright scary. What else are they hiding from us?

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

Special Report says the meeting ended with Obama walking out abruptly. He has nix any short term increase and wants everything completed by Friday. The King has spoken.
Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

He grabbed his ball and stormed off.

President Petulant.

Bishop on July 13, 2011 at 7:16 PM

and when their checks stop coming they will stand there at their mailboxes and wonder what the hell happened.

Scoreboard44 on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Wrong. First, they will call the Post Office and accuse the carrier of stealing or holding their check. Then they will stand at their box the next day and tell the carrier to give them their nonexistent check.

BierManVA on July 13, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Biden says this is a big effin deal.

BacaDog on July 13, 2011 at 7:19 PM

when their checks stop coming they will stand there at their mailboxes and wonder what the hell happened.

There’s no mandate in place that Social Security benefits be electronically auto-deposited into bank accounts?

maverick muse on July 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM

I wonder… if the government withholds say SSI payments or maybe someone’s tax reimbursements that it owes, longer than a certain reasonable time frame, could the victims sue to recover the same interest penalty the government would attach if it were in reverse? Just a thought :)

wubu on July 13, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Take a look at this Q&A to see how politicians and Timothy Geithner are fueling panic with misinformation:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/271834/will-us-be-downgraded-veronique-de-rugy

onlineanalyst on July 13, 2011 at 7:22 PM

LOL

ladyingray on July 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Thanks for bringing Rep. Tim Huelskamp to my attention. I didn’t know who he was, but I really like his style. This country desperately needs politicians like him who aren’t directly confrontational, but gently won’t take no for an answer.

RebeccaH on July 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM

We would probably flip out if we know what they don’t tell us. I guess the best news in this case is that the House is run by Republicans. If the Dems were in charge there would be hearings on why the NFL team owners a big bunch of meanies.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Any thoughts about this solution to solve the debt-ceiling impasse?
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/271793/debt-ceiling-bill-pass-right-now-kevin-d-williamson

onlineanalyst on July 13, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Rock the Frig On!!!!

That was a beautful thing.

A commercial with the last 30 seconds of tht video would be spectacular right now.

Tim_CA on July 13, 2011 at 7:26 PM

There’s no mandate in place that Social Security benefits be electronically auto-deposited into bank accounts?

maverick muse on July 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM

No. Regular Gov’t workers and Military have that, but not SS recipients.

BierManVA on July 13, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Special Report says the meeting ended with Obama walking out abruptly. He has nix any short term increase and wants everything completed by Friday. The King has spoken.
Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

He grabbed his ball and stormed off.

President Petulant.

Bishop on July 13, 2011 at 7:16 PM

You said it. He doesn’t want to do any work–he only wants his way.

INC on July 13, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Shouldn’t it have been noted that, um, isn’t a social security separate thing from regular government stuff, after all they paid in?

I mean, that’s how it’s sold by democrats who make it a third rail, but now they admit it’s all tied together? Aren’t we “paying in” as we speak? That our social security payroll withholding is going into a separate system or something?

Shouldn’t conservatives be pointing this out?

another government failure and lie exposed!!1!!!

joeindc44 on July 13, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 6:47 PM

And what about the military? You know that is who obaka will target first.

ladyingray on July 13, 2011 at 7:33 PM

No. Regular Gov’t workers and Military have that, but not SS recipients.

BierManVA on July 13, 2011 at 7:27 PM

SS recipients can also have their funds deposited electronically. I know many who do.

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Pres. Obama translated: “That’s a really nice social security check you have there. It would be a real shame if something was to happen to it.”

simkeith on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Reality check, Huelskamp voted AGAINST the light bulb ban. Just letting everyone know he isn’t 100%.

Warner Todd Huston on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Why would Barry withhold SS payments?

Because it’s good to be the King!

GarandFan on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 PM

kingsjester on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

I know I haven’t been on HA much lately, but how did I miss this news?

ladyingray on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Is anybody out there saying how irresponsible it is for a president to be throwing around loose uninformed threats like this? Think of all the elders, and the elder-abusing SS check cashing relatives, who are in a state of nervous anxiety right now.

curved space on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 PM

remember, the first rule of Chicago machine politics fight club is that union thugs and the connected get paid first.

The second rule of Chicago machine politics fight club is that if you have to cut spending, the most visible, necessary, and popular services get cut first.

Sorry, granny, you just aren’t as important as other beneficiaries.

joeindc44 on July 13, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Dems are just evil, aren’t they? My God I’ve never seen such manipulation in my life. Not even in my soap opera watching days.
capejasmine on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Get out. NOW.

Bishop on July 13, 2011 at 7:42 PM

So the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration evidently has no curiosity about whether or not, or how it will be determined, if Social Security checks, for August 3, will or will not be sent out? Have I got it right?

labwriter on July 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

SS recipients can also have their funds deposited electronically. I know many who do.

Knucklehead on July 13, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Correct. I was just responding to the question asking if it is mandatory for SSI recipients to have direct deposit.

BierManVA on July 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Special Report says the meeting ended with Obama walking out abruptly. He has nix any short term increase and wants everything completed by Friday. The King has spoken.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 PM

House should pass exactly what they want, go on TV and explain it and let the chips fall where they may.

Enough of this crap from the whiny 2 year old

gophergirl on July 13, 2011 at 7:46 PM

So the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration evidently has no curiosity about whether or not, or how it will be determined, if Social Security checks, for August 3, will or will not be sent out? Have I got it right?

labwriter on July 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

It’s almost as if he either thinks it would be unwise to be curious, or it matters not at all because it was all talk anyway.

Lily on July 13, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Mark Levin just spoke about this post by Tina on his radio show.

Congrats Tina! You are making waves!

wren on July 13, 2011 at 7:57 PM

You are missing the beauty of the system. Trust funds were designed for a time when the debt ceiling was not an issue. They do not work as intended when we are at this limit.

The government can do two things with FICA taxes: pay benefits or add their amounts not used for benefits to the trust funds. Trust funds are part of the national debt so, if the government added to them, it would be forced to retire an equal amount of bonds to avoid being in violation of the ceiling.

If this administration cared a fig about the law, it would realize that it would be in its own best self interest to use FICA revenues for the purposed intended.

Laurence on July 13, 2011 at 7:58 PM

For all, like me, who are inclined to respond and comment here: this is mental masturbation…i.e., it means nothing. Send your pithy, witty thoughts to your congress critters and Mr. Speaker. I just did.

Dingbat63 on July 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM

If Obama and company withhold social security payments, he’s done. It’s over. Not only will he not get reelected, he might not make it through his current term. That’s how bad it would be.

Meanwhile, Michael Medved, after constantly claiming Obama wouldn’t intentionally do things to hurt the country because he’s only interested in getting reelected is now saying we have to cut a deal with Obama because he believes Obama would intentionally withhold payments out of spite, or something.

Hey Medved….where’s bigfoot???

xblade on July 13, 2011 at 8:05 PM

RebeccaH on July 13, 2011 at 7:24 PM

100%

Tim_CA on July 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Dingbat63 on July 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Did that yesterday.

Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Dingbat63 on July 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM. Did that yesterday.. Cindy Munford on July 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Great, and thanks and you always are on the right side of thing.

BUT, that was yesterday. Today (and tomorrow) is what matters.

Dingbat63 on July 13, 2011 at 8:39 PM

We need MORE posturing, way too polite.

Mojave Mark on July 13, 2011 at 9:07 PM

I’ve been a fan of Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp for a while now.

That’s nice; so’s this clip. But why was this tool one of ONLY 10 repubicans to vote against repealing the light bulb ban???

Firefly_76 on July 13, 2011 at 9:20 PM

That chart (and corresponding explanation) needs to go on nightly/cable news (esp. O’Reilly and Hannity). O’Reilly keeps making the case for raising the debt ceiling. This chart would appear to support Michelle Bachmann’s approach rather than his.

IrishEyes on July 13, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Obamateurism of the week winner!!!!

mad scientist on July 13, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Paging President Palin!!

PappyD61 on July 13, 2011 at 10:31 PM

So the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration evidently has no curiosity about whether or not, or how it will be determined, if Social Security checks, for August 3, will or will not be sent out? Have I got it right?

labwriter on July 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Not really. The SSA actuary’s office is actually very good, they’re straight shooters. He’s explained the issue from SSA’s perspective, which is that payments from Soc Sec don’t change gross debt subject to statutory limit because payments reduce Trust Fund debt to the same extent they increase publicly held debt.

But there are potential wrinkles depending on the timing of benefit payments, and the crediting of funds from the general Treasury to the trust funds, and the fact that Treasury rather than SSA actually sends out the checks. And only Treasury’s bureau of the public debt can answer those questions.

SSA can’t really say here more than they said. Treasury — every Treasury dept, not just in this administration but in all administrations — is incredibly protective of being the only entity that can speak to things like currency management, debt management, etc. If other entities in the administration make pronouncements about that, it runs the risk of sending conflicting signals to the markets.

This is actually a good exchange because it puts the responsibility back on the Treasury where it belongs. There’s no reason that Soc Sec checks can’t go out, from the perspective of the Social Security program itself. If there’s a problem, it would arise entirely from how Treasury manages the debt ceiling.

Chuckles3 on July 14, 2011 at 9:21 AM