Obama's Debt Threats: Reality or Scare Tactic?

'The Five' take on president's Social Security comments


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," July 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody. It's 5 o'clock on the East Coast. And this is "The Five." I'm Eric Bolling, alongside Andrea Tantaros, Bob Beckel, Dana Perino and Greg Gutfeld.

"The Five" starts right now.


BOLLING: OK. So, he did go there. President Obama scared grandparents across the nation when he told CBS News yesterday they might not get their Social Security checks next month.

My friend Rush Limbaugh pointed out that the president was up to some funny business. Take a look.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If I didn't know better, I would say the White House gave Scott Pelley a script. This is -- this is an outrage here because this is not true.

And this is -- my God, it is the playbook -- hold senior citizens and military people hostages here. It's not just Social Security checks. It's veterans checks. It's right out of the playbook.


BOLLING: Mr. Obama should have known the seniors will continue to get their money even if the debt talks break down, that is unless you, sir, choose to put one of your green energy projects in front of America's senior citizens in the "who gets paid" line.

By the way, Mr. Obama failed to point out that the Social Security trust fund has $2.6 trillion fund ready for grandma and grandpa.

Bob, what's with the fear-monger-in-chief?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: What he is saying -- I know it comes as a shock to you, what he is saying to you is the truth of what the Republicans with their inability to understand history or understand the importance of this country are willing to put us through because of their silly position on taxes.

The fact is they won't get Social Security checks. The fact of the matter is, they won't be veterans' benefits. The fact is if you let the Republicans go forward --

BOLLING: But that's not a fact, Bob. That's not a fact. They would get Social Security checks.

BECKEL: Why do you say that?

BOLLING: Because there's -- according to the administration, there is $2.6 trillion sitting in the trust fund. Why wouldn't you just tap the trust fund?

BECKEL: That's money we paid the trust fund, we borrowed from the trust fund, right? So, we've also --

BOLLING: Oh, I see. So, we borrowed it and it's no longer there? Is that what you're saying?

BECKEL: I'm saying it's in a trust fund. If the debt limit was increased, you'd have it.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: This is -- this is not a new ploy. I've seen this before. In fact, it actually helps sell magazines. I don't know if you remember this magazine from the '70s, very famous. Do you have it? Come on. There you go. This is Obama's strategy right here. If you don't raise the debt ceiling, we're going to get -- we're going to get rid of granny. In this case, of course, they didn't kill the dog. But the message is still the same. And it doesn't work.

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: It was the same with Medicare. Granny goes off a cliff. Remember the recent budget debate? Women won't be able to get abortions, oh, no. Obamacare, they did the same thing. It's like Halloween up on the Hill.

BOLLING: Dana, fear-mongering, I'm sure President Bush never fear-mongered like this. Making threats on --


DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: He didn't threaten --



PERINO: He didn't threaten not to pay Social Security. I think what is interesting is that debate has moved beyond. You have the fact that the House cannot pass the tax increases. They couldn't under the Pelosi House either. So, I think it's a little bit ridiculous to say the Republicans just want to starve government.

I do think that we have a representative government for a reason. And the people are saying we are wanting spending cuts, not just raising the debt limit.

There was a development yesterday where Senator Mitch McConnell put forward a creative plan that I think will probably be rejected by the House, at least initially. It's not good enough for the conservatives and I think that there's going to be --


BECKEL: They're not conservatives. These people are right wingers. Let's put it what they are.

And, by the way, George Bush didn't scare seniors. That's right. What he did was saying, if we don't go into Iraq, we're going to be subject to weapons of mass destruction -- which we still haven't found.

PERINO: Bob, you -- that is so ridiculous.

BECKEL: No, it's not.

PERINO: Yes, it is.


PERINO: I've just about had it with liberals who bring that up all the time. It's just baloney.


PERINO: And there are so many -- everybody had the same information. Even one of your favorite liberals, John Kerry, they all voted for it. Secretary Clinton when she was a senator.

So, why don't we take Iraq and WMD off the table? We can talk about Social Security.

BECKEL: We're off topic, but I want to know the weapons of mass destruction are. They don't exist.


BOLLING: Whether they did or didn't, America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don't remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time.

All right. Let's move on. Dana pointed out --

PERINO: I just don't think we should use terrorism as a leverage in the Social Security debate.

TANTAROS: I thought this was the era of civility.

BOLLING: Let's do this, though. Let's do this. Dana pointed out something important. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell floated an idea. He called at it backup plan, in case the debt talks break down. In it, he gave -- they give -- the Republicans give Mr. Obama authority to the raise the debt ceiling $2.5 trillion in three tranches if he just go aheads and promises to cut spending.

And, by the way, he's not allowed to cross his fingers when he promises.

TANTAROS: It's risky politics because what he's hoping is that he can put the onus on President Obama and the Republicans can blame President Obama if he raises the debt ceiling on his own. I got to say, though, as policy, it stinks. It absolutely stinks.

I agree with Pat Toomey. He was on Fox News earlier. He came out and he said, look, we have a real opportunity here. The only thing we're talking about shrinking government is because of the Tea Party, is because of these right wingers.

It's important. We have to do it now. I think Republicans should stand firm and really box the president on policy.

BECKEL: Andrea, you don't shrink the size of federal budget deficit with a threat of doing away the good faith and credit of the United States government. It is so irresponsible.

TANTAROS: It's going to get raised no matter what.

BECKEL: I mean, I'm ready to throw -- to upchuck. These people are just so idiotic that they can't figure this out.

GUTFELD: Calm down.

PERINO: Was President Obama idiotic when he said he would vote against raising the debt limit?

BECKEL: Yes, yes.

PERINO: OK. Well, I think we have that (ph).

GUTFELD: I know it was a bad idea when Harry Reid was for it. That's what scares me. It's like your ex-wife -- your wife's divorce attorney saying it's a great settlement.

BECKEL: Don't you think Mitch McConnell, who is a serious guy --

GUTFELD: He blinked. He blinked.

BECKEL: But at least the adults in the Republican Party are saying, we can't let this happen, in the meantime, you've got Boehner --


GUTFELD: Wait a second. I'm so sick and tired of this adult-child metaphor. They're using whenever -- they're talking about Obama is the adult in the room. Anybody who agrees with Obama is the adult. Anybody who disagrees with him is a child.

It used to be you were a racist, now you're a child.

BECKEL: No. Now if you are a Tea Party, I'm going to give you a rattle.

BOLLING: Here's the thing. You know, the Tea Party is responsible for House going Republican in 2010. They promised they wouldn't do things like raise the debt ceiling arbitrarily or let Obama do it.

BECKEL: I don't think that's what they campaigned on.

BOLLING: Dana, is Mitch McConnell-is he the established Republican throwing the Tea Party or the ultra fiscal conservatives under the bus?

PERINO: No, I don't think so. I have the utmost respect for Senator McConnell. I also think this does not have to be such a partisan issue. I actually don't know a single Republican who says that we should just go ahead and not raise the debt limit. Actually, people are trying to come to the table and say we've got plan for cutting spending. Do you want to raise taxes? We're not for that.


BOLLING: Unequivocally, Bachmann says don't raise the debt ceiling.

TANTAROS: About 80 to 100 Republicans say they would vote for raising the debt ceiling, which I don't agree on. But there's got to be spending cuts tied to it. Absolutely. ‘If not now, when?' to quote President Obama.

BECKEL: If here is a chance to show tomorrow when a poll is finished, which I happen to know a good deal about it, they put before the American people the four options, the $4.2 trillion option, including raising the taxes on upper income people, the thing that Obama and Boehner proposed, the middle level one, and not having debt increase. The upper level one, the $4.2 trillion including tax increases, overwhelmingly, was supported by the Democrats, independents -- and this would get you crazy -- Republicans.

BOLLING: Yes, Republicans, not fiscally conservative Republicans, though.

BECKEL: We got all Republicans.


BOLLING: Greg, the Tea Party is responsible for bringing a lot of people, a lot of Republicans to the House.

GUTFELD: Yes. Boehner -- Boehner would not be in charge if it wasn't for the Tea Party. They were the -- they are the reason why everybody is talking about this. And you can't disown them.

I think McConnell blinked, which I think was kind of sad. It was like trying to negotiate for a used car.

PERINO: You can look at it a different way, which is that Senator McConnell will put the onus on President Obama saying first, up to three times before the re-election.


BECKEL: It's tough politics for Obama to do it. But I will say this -- I give the Tea Party this. They have brought this to the table. I don't disagree with that. They organize very well.

But I'm telling you -- in the end, they represent a small minority of this country.


TANTAROS: Have you looked at the polls?

BOLLING: I'm fiscally conservative person. I support the Tea Party.

GUTFELD: I got to tell you, they are made up of people that have never in politics before. These are people that have, you know, have had regular jobs, own their small businesses and this is the first time they became politically active. Like I always say, they don't throw chairs through windows because they own the chairs and they own the windows. This is the first time they're in the political arena.

BECKEL: They have done a remarkably good job of organizing themselves. I give you that. And they have an inordinate impact on the Republican caucuses and primaries. That's why they're important.

But as a percentage of the country, they're a minority.


BOLLING: Dana points out that it's McConnell --

PERINO: You do polling for a living. You know that the majority of Americans want government to shrink. It's not a Republican or a Democratic issue, an independent, too.

BECKEL: It's not my polling. You ask Gallup, the percentage of the Tea Party negatives are about 57 percent, 58 percent.

BOLLING: It's McConnell giving the ball to Obama. If you're going to toss in a football game, you receive, you don't kick.

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