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Boehner: Cut Social Security to Pay for War

Now, here’s an interesting moment.

So House Republicans have vowed to block the war supplemental if it includes any tacked-on social spending, like the education jobs fund. They don’t want any add-ons or extraneous, unrelated spending in the bill. War is war, funding the troops is funding the troops, other projects should be kept separate, etc.

And then the Minority Leader of the House goes ahead and says this:

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system, Boehner said. He said he’d favor increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation and limiting payments to those who need them.

“We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke,” Boehner said. “If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you’re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we’re broke? We just need to be honest with people.”

Well, he’s definitely being honest. Just terribly, terribly confused. Social Security is a separate government program with its own funding stream. You can’t pay for anything by cutting it, in actuality. And if you throw that out and assume you can, well, the honesty in cutting the benefit people have paid into for their entire working lives so America can drop more bombs on brown people, that’s just bracing. Not to mention the fact that it completely contradicts the Republican line that war spending should be “clean.”

Boehner also doesn’t know anything about Social Security. Cost of living adjustments are already based on the Consumer Price Index. Someone needs to prep him a little better; the statements shouldn’t be wrong in addition to insane.

But I also want to highlight what Boehner orginally says here. He says that “Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system.” That’s an interesting statement, given what he said six paragraphs earlier in this story:

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that this law and this program never really takes effect,” Boehner said. One option would be to repeal the $534 billion in Medicare cuts, which pay for more than half of the law’s provisions. “They’re going to need money from the Congress to hire these 20,000-plus bureaucrats they need to hire to make this program work. They’re not going to get one dime from us.”

Emphasis mine. John Boehner wants to get entitlements under control, and he wants to start by adding $534 billion in liability to Medicare (most of which goes to total waste in the system like Medicare Advantage). You know, the one with the actual long-term funding problem, unlike Social Security.

John McCain ran on a platform in 2008 of less jobs and more wars. John Boehner one-upped him for 2010: less Social Security, more wars. Good luck with that message.

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David Dayen

David Dayen