U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, in a letter to the editor July 25 accused President Barack Obama of not telling the truth.
Landry took issue with Obama’s statement that he could not guarantee Social Security payments would be made on Aug. 3 if the debt limit were not raised.
Landry further stated the debt limit is not an issue because the U.S .Treasury Department can make a bookkeeping entry and the crisis will go away.
Landry says the Treasury can move debt owed to the Social Security Trust Fund out of the public debt column and therefore free additional borrowing authority.
I called Landry’s Washington office and spoke to Landry’s employee Michael Stwarka. I asked him where Landry got the “bookkeping entry” idea. Stwarka said Landry got it from the Bipartisan Policy Center (http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org).
Stwarka sent a copy of the center’s Debt Limit Analysis. There isn’t anything in the analysis about the “bookkeeping entry” solution, so I called the center, and I spoke to Chris Hildebrand.
Hildebrand said the “bookkeeping entry” solution was discussed with members of Congress, but was dismissed as unworkable because the Treasury Department questions the legality of such a solution and it therefore is not a viable alternative. Apparently, Landry has not gotten the message.
The analysis predicts that on Aug. 3 the government will have $12 billion in revenue on that day as opposed to $32 billion in obligations that must be paid on that day (analysis, Page 23).
The analysis concludes the consequences of default for the Treasury market, interest rates, the level and status of the dollar, the U.S. economy and the global financial system (analysis, Page 37).
Another sobering fact mentioned in the analysis is that $507.4 billion in U.S. Treasury debt matures in August. The Treasury will be attempting to refinance some or all of this debt in the midst of this public debate about extending the debt limit (analysis, page 35).
The analysis confirms that what Obama said was accurate. If the debt limit is not increased, the government will not be able to pay its bills.
Landry has no factual basis for saying Obama did not tell the truth. He ought to apologize to the president for his inappropriate remarks.
In the future, your newspaper ought to check the factual accuracy of statements made in letters to the editor submitted by politicians.