What David seems to be saying, on reflective thought, is that the "Trust Fund" mechanism may give existing Social Security beneficiaries some claim for precedence in priortization, (See my post on my "Issues" blog today.) It's not clear (given the Flemming v. Nestor decision) that it would, and it might take a federal judge to tell us.
Bernie Sanders speaks out on this:
Update: Late Tuesday
Another recent ("conservative") reply to my New York Times post makes what sounds like a more relevant observation, possibly confounding all the other scare talk from both liberals and conservatives: The Social Security Administration holds Treasury securities and has legally priority for redemption of them or interest payment (like any other bondholder) if there is a shortfall. Presumably that could mean that payments to beneficiaries continue. But then why do so many authorities (including Professor Tribe) say that they could stop? Is it that knowing constitutional law doesn't mean you understand federal government accounting practices? If not, who really does? Even the Treasury Departments's statements are confusing. ("Parlour Timocracy", anyone?)
Frankly, the mainstream media, the law professors, the president, and members of Congress are all over the map on this. They can't all be right. Does anybody know what is going on?