Published July 14, 2011
Tea Party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-I.L., has strong words for President Obama in a video posted on his website.
“President Obama, quit lying. You know darn well that if Aug. 2, comes and goes there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all Social Security obligations,” says Walsh in the video.
The Treasury Department has estimated that the U.S. will go over its’ debt limit on Aug. 2, and Walsh is angry that President Obama has said that Social Security checks may not go out if there is not a debt limit deal by then. Walsh contends it is not true.
That’s a message echoed by all Senate Republican freshmen, who sent a letter today to the president, making the argument that there still will be enough money coming in to the government to cover Social Security checks.
“I think the President should apologize for politicizing Social Security, for threatening not to send out checks,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-K.Y., also a freshman Tea Partier.
GOP House and Senate freshmen may be the new kids on the block, but they aren't shrinking violets. Many of them were elected to office by vocal, passionate Tea Party voters, and the lawmakers see themselves on a mission, in part, to rein in big government spending and prevent tax increases.
“The majority of the House has to improve 100% of the spending and that's a tremendous amount of leverage and we should use it," says Rep. Steve King, R-I.A.
Political analyst Michael Barone says that has an impact on how far House GOP Speaker John Boehner can go in the debt negotiations.
“The very existence of these House Republican Freshman,” says Barone, “have lent credibility to Speaker Boehner when he says, 'Look there are not enough votes for a tax increase.'”
President Obama also is feeling the pressure from his left flank. He has said that Social Security and Medicare may need some "modifications" as part of a debt deal, in order to sustain them for future generations.
“If there is a reasonable deal to be had on it, it is one that I'm willing to pursue, ” the President said in a July 11, news conference on debt ceiling negotiations.
That got a strong push-back from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other liberals.
“Today the Democratic Women of Congress have come together to send a very clear message, we must protect Medicare and Social Security. We will not support cuts, ” said Pelosi on July 12.
If there are cuts to those programs in a final deal, Barone says it will be a tough sell for the President with his liberal base, which sees itself as the “guardians of Social Security and the parents of Medicare for many, many years.”