The White House has begun telling lawmakers that by the administration's own estimates, the Social Security surplus could be tapped by as much as $12 billion to $15 billion next year unless spending is curbed dramatically, Fox News has learned.

GOP lawmakers say Office of Management and Budget director Mitch Daniels showed Republican leaders charts Friday based on what Congress is on track to spend.

Daniels also said this year's spending could dip into the Social Security surplus by as much as $10 billion. This year's spending, however, is directed by ex-president Clinton's budget.

Another prominent Republican is willing to consider using Social Security surpluses for federal spending, Fox News has also learned. Republican whip Don Nickles — the assistant GOP leader in the Senate — has made it clear he is not against tapping Social Security surpluses. 

The Nickles revelation came a day after Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, the ranking Budget Committee member, said he was in favor of using surplus funds for current spending projects such as education.  

Nickles is not pushing the idea, but a major shift is underway and other Republicans are expected to say similar things in the weeks ahead.