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July 13th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #905 'Social insecurity'

Reporter's Note: President Obama asked for advice from the public long ago, and I think he might appreciate some now. Here is today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Well, the debt talks seem to be tottering along about as well as Uncle Ernie coming home from a bender. This must be disappointing for you. Heck, I suppose it is disappointing for all of us. The whole idea that it has come to this seems absurd.

And I imagine it is more than a little frightening to some folks. Your warning about possible problems with Social Security checks no doubt rattled across the country like an octogenarian earthquake.

Related: Taxes, Social Security fears cited in debt ceiling talks

I read a long time ago that the single biggest worry among older folks is the idea of running out of money. So your words may even now be causing some seriously sleepless nights. (Although I should note that my mother seems to be doing alright, and she doesn’t sleep much anyway...so go figure.) All of which leads me to say, I’m not sure you should have said this.

First, because - and don’t be offended - it sounds a little like a scare tactic. Yes, I know that a default could delay a lot of checks for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. I understand predictions that it could send a shock wave through the economy. But singling out and mentioning older people has a little “be afraid, be very afraid” quality. And let’s be honest: If you’d said “checks for people who work for the IRS might be delayed,” the headlines would have been a lot smaller and a lot less noticed by the population.

Second, because these are the very people whom you asked during the health care reform battle to trust the government. Indeed, you have said many times that such folks rely on the government for their security. Now you’ve given them yet another reason to not trust you or the government. So instead of saying they may be thrown out in the cold, I think it might have been better for you to outline what sort of dramatic, heroic efforts you will take to prevent their checks from being delayed - even if the debt ceiling is smashed.

I’m not taking sides in all this - that is your job - but I really do hope you and your fellow pols reach some kind of workable deal. A lot of people of all ages are counting on you.

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Michelle

    Change is gonna come! LOL! Yes it is, but not the kind of change the people were wanting.

    Oh yes we did! (Vote an idiot into office)

    July 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  2. Michelle

    Oh my gosh! Are you serious? No one is responding to this letter? He made a very poor decision, but his scare tactic demonstrates what he is willing to do to get what he wants. I do not approve of his strategies or his actions. We need a better president!

    July 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  3. ALICE

    I can't believe this – – – – Barack Obama warned that, absent a deal, he can't guarantee older Americans will continue receiving Social Security checks next month. "There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said,
    I never thought I would hear our President utter those words. To heck with the seniors, we're only the ones that paid into Social Security for MANY MANY years..

    July 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  4. Marie DD

    Can someone explain a debt "ceiling" that we move when it suits our needs? How is that a ceiling? The government needs to just start saying NO!

    July 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm |