Sorry, the Debt Limit Looks Constitutional

July 6th, 2011 at 12:00 pm | 107 Comments |

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With negotiations over the debt limit going down to the wire, the threat of a catastrophic default looms on the horizon. In order to prevent this disaster from happening, some analysts and experts think they have found a way to prevent the crisis: declare the debt limit itself to be unconstitutional. Economics columnist Bruce Bartlett, one of this view’s main supporters, cites section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned.” However, this view is not universally accepted. Three legal scholars contacted by FrumForum invoked the powers granted to Congress under Article 1 to dispute the case against the debt ceiling and offered rival interpretations of the passages cited by Bartlett and others.

Michael McConnell, a former federal judge who now teaches at Stanford Law School, has recently written about the issue. He noted that “Article I, Section 8, Clause 2 gives Congress authority to borrow money on the credit of the United States, [so]  Congressional authorization is … constitutionally required for the Treasury to borrow.”

Theodore Seto, a law professor at  Loyola Marymount University who specializes in public finance, agreed and pointed out that standard interpretive practices gives the section from Article I precedence over the 14th Amendment. “You want to try to interpret constitutional provisions so that they’re consistent with one another,” he said. “If section 4 were meant to override the Congressional control over borrowing mentioned in Article I, you would expect that to be stated clearly.” Seto admitted that “politically, I’d love to defang the Republicans on this [by showing that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional], but I just don’t see the argument.”

Calvin Massey, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California at Hastings who has also written about the debt-ceiling debate recently, took a different view of the provision of the 14th Amendment that Bartlett cites. “I think that what the constitutional provision in the 14th Amendment means is that the government is directed constitutionally not to default on its debts,” he said. “That means that you take current revenue and devote it first of all to paying the existing debt, but that doesn’t give the Treasury Department carte blanche to borrow additional funds.”

Opponents of the debt ceiling also cite a constitutional provision known as the Take Care clause, which requires the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” They argue that the prioritization of spending which Massey recommends would violate this requirement since it would involve disregarding laws which require spending money on other federal programs. However, the scholars FrumForum spoke to were skeptical of this argument as well.

“[The President has] a constitutional obligation that’s paramount to ordinary legislation to make sure that the public debt is paid,” Massey said. “Legislation is always subject to constitutional limitations, and … in [this] situation … that means paying the public debt first.” McConnell agreed, arguing that “among the laws he must faithfully execute is the constitutional prohibition on borrowing without authorization by Congress.” Both McConnell and Seto also noted that, if the Take Care clause allows the President to borrow without Congressional authorization, it would also allow him to levy new taxes without consulting Congress; they both saw this as a clear sign that the argument the debt ceiling was unconstitutional was mistaken.

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107 Comments so far ↓

  • Frumplestiltskin

    jonnybutter, that jackass is a pure fascist. No question in my mind. Checks and balances, Senate, 2/3 requirement to override a veto, none of those matter to him. The heart of the American system is compromise, only when Presidents have 60 votes in the Senate and the House are they able to pass whatever they can (and even then not always). I would have no problem if the Republicans won the White House and had the House and Senate and could muster 60 votes for them to cut whatever they want (and for budgetary measures 50 votes in the Senate using reconciliation is enough, see Bush tax cuts)

    Look at this language: There is no logical inconsistency about a President forced to make unpleasant concessions

    Forced. No right to veto, no expectation that he can use his veto power. Nothing about the President then being able, in turn via his veto, to force Republicans to make concessions. Nope.
    He has a truly bizarre take on the House of Representatives. Funny how he got it when Republicans took over. Before then it was Obama forcing the ACA down America’s throat.

    Pure and unadulterated fascism. This is what this lot has come to. I suppose they can make Democrats were little yellow D’s on their armband as well. Why not demand the abolition of the Democratic party while they are at it, hell they were elected so they should be able to do anything they want, but only them. When Democrats take over the house, well then it must have been voter fraud and acorn.

    What a loathsome little troll.

    I would say exactly the same thing if any Democrat advocated that same kind of nonsense, but you know, they never have.

  • ottovbvs

    Pure and unadulterated fascism. This is what this lot has come to.

    Nothing new about this either in segments of the GOP. The problem as is often alluded to is that this strand of opinion has to all intents and purposes take over the GOP. You only need to examine the behavior of people like Gingrich, De Lay and Rove and the way in which the Bush admin corrupted departments of govt. A bit of corruption and rewarding follower in departments like interior and energy has always been around but they went way beyond that in traditionally neutral departments like Justice and HHS. The Plame and States Attorney incidents demonstrated just how low these people were willing to go in furthering their agenda. And of course Frum was a minor player in all this which is why anything he ever says is to be regarded with some scepticism.

  • jonnybutter

    I suppose they can make Democrats were little yellow D’s on their armband as well.

    Yes, they could literally demand anything. It’s such an obvious flaw!

    Why did this flaw not become apparent before? Since we’re on the subject of democracy…. Ask any *real* conservative about the constituent parts of a stable liberal democracy, and he or she will tell you that it isn’t only laws, but also custom, institutions, consensus, built up over the years. The current GOP is a slander to its own name, frankly. Since the Gingrich years, it has been the business of the party to be strictly legalistic, to blow up those customs and institutions for short term political gain. Impeachment; pointless (and expensive) government shutdowns; Bush v Gore; the idea that presidential signing statements have the force of law; the grotesque abuse of the filibuster; and now the debt ceiling (a partial list). To hear an apologist for this GOP defend democracy in their apologia makes me gag.

  • Chris Balsz

    “Forced. No right to veto, no expectation that he can use his veto power. Nothing about the President then being able, in turn via his veto, to force Republicans to make concessions. Nope.
    He has a truly bizarre take on the House of Representatives. Funny how he got it when Republicans took over. Before then it was Obama forcing the ACA down America’s throat.”

    Yup. Forced. The way a cop is forced to get a warrant, the way the House is forced to get a Senate vote to repeal ACA. Forced. By the Constitution get the approval of the House to spend money. Forced. No options but making some kind of deal.

    “Pure and unadulterated fascism. This is what this lot has come to. I suppose they can make Democrats were little yellow D’s on their armband as well. Why not demand the abolition of the Democratic party while they are at it, hell they were elected so they should be able to do anything they want, but only them. When Democrats take over the house, well then it must have been voter fraud and acorn…I would say exactly the same thing if any Democrat advocated that same kind of nonsense, but you know, they never have.”

    Fire away at pnumi2 then.
    http://www.frumforum.com/can-the-debt-crisis-lead-to-impeachment/comment-page-1#comment-312960

    None of you are entitled to shared values or priorities. You’re not entitled to agreement on anything. You’re not entitled to smooth passage of what you consider most important. Nor are you entitled to say, “Well we’re not getting a deal fast enough or easy enough following the Constitution, let’s endow the President with emergency powers.” You aren’t competent to force your coup on the rest of this country. Especially since it’s easily countered with a press conference denouncing the bond sales as invalid debt.

    For a party that celebrates ordering everybody in America above the poverty line to buy a commodity from a state-endorsed for-profit vendor, your concern for “compromise” and “traditions” are laughable.

    Now despite your tantrums, at the end of the month, no matter what, there’s going to be an arrangement, and it’s going to have commitments into the next fiscal year and those commitments are going to be revisited in the next fiscal year. And there’s going to be commitments beyond the next election, and those commitments are not going to survive beyond the next election. No matter how they’re drafted. The next Congress, and this President or the new President, are not going to abide them. I say that even if the Right wins, even if we get everything we want this year, and then there’s a right-wing Republican Congress and President in 2013. We start over. And if you sweep, we start over.

    That’s the America the Founders set up.
    That is, in fact, why it has ever worked at all; at some point the gatherings said “OK where are we at? That’s as far as we can get for now.” And the losers can go home and – unique in the world – they’re free to start up again in the next election without permission of the winners.

    • pnumi2

      Chris

      I’ve often wondered if you are a Christine or a Chris, because if you are the former, we liberals here could be in big trouble.

      “The Pythia, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC.”

      Of course, I’m referring to this oracular pronouncement

      “Now despite your tantrums, at the end of the month, no matter what, there’s going to be an arrangement, and it’s going to have commitments into the next fiscal year and those commitments are going to be revisited in the next fiscal year. And there’s going to be commitments beyond the next election, and those commitments are not going to survive beyond the next election. No matter how they’re drafted. The next Congress, and this President or the new President, are not going to abide them. I say that even if the Right wins, even if we get everything we want this year, and then there’s a right-wing Republican Congress and President in 2013. We start over. And if you sweep, we start over.”

      I sure hope you are Chris with the Balsz and not Christine with the virginity.

  • zephae

    None of you are entitled to shared values or priorities. You’re not entitled to agreement on anything. You’re not entitled to smooth passage of what you consider most important. Nor are you entitled to say, “Well we’re not getting a deal fast enough or easy enough following the Constitution, let’s endow the President with emergency powers.”

    You keep saying that the 14th Amendment view would give the President special “emergency” powers, but reading through most of the comments here, you haven’t proved that any new powers are being created.

    First, you’ve misstated Congress’ borrowing power. While Congress has the power to borrow, it has delegated the power of actually borrowing to the Treasury. Therefor, it is the Treasury, the Department endowed with the responsibility of actually paying America’s bills, that has been given the power TO borrow by issuing treasuries. Congress AUTHORIZES borrowing through the budget and other such legislation. (edited for clarity)

    Second, were the President to order the Treasury to continue to issue bonds pursuant to current law, it would not be issuing new debt. That would be like saying every monthly mortgage bill is “new debt,” which is just ridiculous. Congress, through the budget and other spending bills, has authorized borrowing to cover the cost of any program not already paid for in taxes. What check does the Congress have to stop the Treasury from issuing bonds? Passing a balanced budget or other bills which either raise taxes and cut spending until no further borrowing is needed to cover the spending AUTHORIZED by Congress.

    Third, your bizarre view about this issue ironically would give more emergency powers to the President. The President would be given the power to refuse to execute any Congressional law on the grounds that it “does not have the funds to pay for enforcement and is prohibited by Congressional statute from issuing any further Treasury bonds.” How exactly do you reconcile this catch-22 of Constitutional power, where the President is both obligated and prohibited from faithfully executing the duties of his office due to Congressional action? Where’s the checks and balances in that?

  • Primrose

    This is insane. I think Fareed Zakaria says it best when he says it is just money, they can literally split the difference.

    I feel, as I’ve said in another article, that the idea that you would pay any attention to the financial demands of people to ignorant to understand what they would be doing by defaulting on the US debt, is ridiculous.

    It would set a terrible precedent. It would throw the world economy in a tailspin and it would cost us money. Lots and lots of money in interest. If your grasp of finance is so weak you think default is a good idea, then your grasp of finance is weak and a rational person should avoid following your advice. You don’t know anything.

    I also am tired about hearing how devastating the deficit is from people unwilling to raise taxes a small degree.If the deficit would really destroy us, and quickly, then as citizens we can all pay a modest hike. Rich citizens can pay a lot more. If one fails to feel motivated to work because he or she is asked to do our duty as good citizens, then well, that person has got their priorities so messed up there is no predicting or pleasing them.

    Taxes are often raised during war. We have two of them, plus excursions. It’s not out of the ordinary, or expected.

    But somehow paying just a little bit more, particularly those who are rich, is too much to ask. Well, then I must assume that the deficit isn’t really that dangerous, because I don’t see how paying 3% more of your comfortable income is too much to ask if your country will be ruined.

    • pnumi2

      Who knows anything?

      “It would set a terrible precedent. It would throw the world economy in a tailspin and it would cost us money. Lots and lots of money in interest. If your grasp of finance is so weak you think default is a good idea, then your grasp of finance is weak and a rational person should avoid following your advice. You don’t know anything.’

      Since September 11, 2001 a lot of precedents have come and gone and until that malignancy known as the Republican Party began its campaign of deceit about raising the debt ceiling, the DJIA was less than 10% off of its all-time high.

      911 did not throw the world economy into a tail spin. We recovered and were able to ride that Republican hustled bubble to a DJIA of 14,164. No tailspin. No dollar cost unless you panicked.

      The markets were closed from the Infamous Tuesday till the following Monday. No tailspin.

      Bernanke has gotten interest rates down to nothing; consequently the annual debt service of the Treasury is as low as could have been hoped for. But don’t expect the Republicans to give Bernanke any credit for that. They are a congregation of mean spirited low life who hate the success of anybody but themselves.

      For the last year I have said that if John MCCain had won in 2008 and inherited Ben Bernanke, he would have given the same advice to McCain whose course of action would have been indistinguishable from Obama’s and today the Republicans would be hugging each other on the street with tidings of comfort and joy.

      One of the big differences between default and 911 is there will be no element of surprise with default. The lackeys in the Senate have been all over the media like maggots on road kill telling an incredulous world what their noxious plans are. The Treasury, Wall Street, the Central Banks, The Fed will all be waiting for this attack of the Morons the way Meade was waiting for Pickett atop Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.

      Ben Bernanke was Chairman of the Economics Department at Princeton. He was named to Federal Reserve Board of Govenors most likely to replace Greenspan. Do you think any of the Morons in the Republican Party or on this forum, including Frum, know a fraction of what Bernanke knows about economic theory? Certainly not Chris Balsz.

      Of course, the debt ceiling must be raised. But not before the heads of Grover Norquist and Jim DeMint are raised from the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

  • Nanotek

    “For a party that celebrates ordering everybody in America above the poverty line to buy a commodity from a state-endorsed for-profit vendor, your concern for “compromise” and “traditions” are laughable.”

    given that the mandate was a Republican idea and pushed by Republicans until Obama signed on, your argument seems mis-directed

  • Chris Balsz

    @ zephae – CNN says the shortfall is $118 billion a month, between what Congress budgeted to spend, and what the Treasury collects. I understand the argument that this $118 billion was already approved. If Treasury passes the hat between the rest of the G20 and gets it interest free, then there’s no constitutional problem bringing it in. If, as seems more likely, they will issue new bonds to raise it without Congressional authorization, every penny of the interest paid over decades is unauthorized and unconstitutional additions to the debt.

    When the President targets closures in order to honor a House refusal to fund we are seeing a fulfillment of separate and divided powers between the branches. Allowing the President to refuse a tough deal with the House, and borrow against the United States at will, in whatever amount he feels appropriate–and the idea he’s limited by the debt is of course his own choice at that point — is a new power, especially denied him, as it was denied the Kings of England before him.

    @ Nanotek – can you name the GOP chairmen who tried to push the idea during the Bush Administration? I understand it was floated back in 1994, and I think you would see that instead of being “pushed by Republicans until Obama signed on” it died in the 1990s. The same way the Democrat party USED to be the Party of segregation. Until they stopped backing it at all.

  • Raskolnik

    Chris,

    Does the fact that the GOP flip-flopped on the individual mandate necessitate concluding that it is unconstitutional, or unworkable, or immoral?

    Is the comparison to segregation really warranted?

    And, are you defending the pre-ACA status quo? If not, then how exactly would you advocate fixing the healthcare system?

    Also I want to state here that I believe the cult of Executive branch power is as much (if not more) of a danger as default.”For what would it profit a man, if he were to gain the whole world but lose his immortal soul?” The slide that began with GWB, into greater and greater power for the President, is a danger to the soul of the United States. Default would be devastating, and there is still time for a Congressional solution. My main concern at this point is for what happens in the days and years after the President trumps Congress on budget issues, following a hypothetical scenario where Obama uses executive power to raise the debt limit (or eliminate it entirely). Those would be some very dark, very murky, uncharted and dangerous waters.

  • Chris Balsz

    “Does the fact that the GOP flip-flopped on the individual mandate necessitate concluding that it is unconstitutional, or unworkable, or immoral?” No, the GOP’s position then or now doesn’t have anything to do with me concluding its unconstitutional, unworkable or immoral. Having concluded it is unconstitutional and immoral, I would like to make it unworkable and I won’t support a party that endorses it.

    “Is the comparison to segregation really warranted?” Yes, as an example of how a party can totally repudiate a policy option. I think the Democrat Party has “come clean” on that issue. I think the Republican Party is making very clear it opposes mandated shopping–maybe when Romney loses again, it will be settled.

    “The way out” is to make a deal to carry us into the next election, and then, if you think the House has been totally out of line, destroy the Republican majority. And maybe Speaker Nancy Pelosi can impeach the survivors for violating the 14th Amendment.

  • Raskolnik

    “I think the Republican Party is making very clear it opposes mandated shopping.”

    Chris, I really do agree with you about the problems inherent in having the government tell people they must buy something. The defense, that healthcare insurance is a different kind of “something,” is obviously ad hoc and does nothing to allay fears of intrusive government meddling. It may or may not pass constitutional muster–ultimately that will be for the SCOTUS to decide–but even if the law stands, it probably won’t stand for very long (at least I hope not).

    The reason why I asked you if you were defending the pre-ACA status quo is that, the way I see it, the problems we are experiencing with the healthcare system stem from three main factors:

    a) the fact that no one but the inordinately wealthy can afford the “asking price” of medical procedures, i.e. what they cost on paper

    b) thus, in order for one who is not egregiously wealthy to be able to afford medical care, insurance is required.

    c) However, the insurance system is essentially a pyramid scheme, and will certainly not work if a large percentage of the population is uninsured (and thus does not “pay in”) but still receives care, often for chronic conditions, through the emergency room.

    In the long run, the only viable choice I see is to ditch the system of providing healthcare through the middlemen of insurance companies entirely. Obamacare may not fix this structural problem, and in the short run it appears to make the problem worse by handing the insurers even more money; but the status quo was (in the words of FF contributor Andrej Pavelyev) “indefensible.” Given a choice between doing nothing, and doing something that isn’t perfect but at least begins the process of reforming the structural problems we face, I can’t help feeling that doing something is superior.

    But I am curious as to your point of view.

  • Chris Balsz

    Seems to me there’s different costs involved:

    The cost of just operating the building 365 days a year.

    The cost of buying equipment/drugs/software that is developed by third-party vendors over years.

    The cost of training medical professionals to the point they are competent to heal.

    The actual cost in attendance, disposable supplies and medicines to heal people of short-term disease or injury.

    The actual cost in attendance, disposable supplies and medicines to heal people of long-term disease or injury.

    The actual cost in attendance, disposable supplies and medicines to treat long-term incurable disease or injury.

    It seems to me where what Americans do, is try to recoup all those costs as “health care” from the patient. And if the patient can’t pay, they try for a reduced amount from the insurer or government. And as the unpaid costs pile up, the cost of every visit for “health care” rises.

    And it seems like the rest of the planet divides those costs up. For instance in France, they dont’ have a very high cost of training people to heal, because they control who gets to go to college through testing. Canada attacked the high cost of drugs by having their government threaten to void patents on drugs if a deal wasn’t cut. And many national health plans don’t have high costs for chronic incurable care, because they refuse to provide as much as we’d like to have.

    If we were to make patients more responsible for their own care, and largely not responsible for the framework of costs to enable them to seek care, we’d have cheaper “health care costs”. I suggest that infrastructure costs can be separated out and more easily borne by a community budget.

    Personal responsibility would mean just that: personal liability. Now we can learn something from the example of student loans. Student loans are lifetime debt. They are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The best you can do is a temporary stop of the interest clock. And usually they earn interest, and they can consume debtors if not paid off early. Now that the government is responsible for student loans, instead of for-profit lenders…it’s actually being run more aggressively.

    I would suggest that the patient be liable for the costs of treatment, not infrastructure; and they not be allowed to discharge this debt; and that there be no interest on the debt for medical care. And you’d see which gets paid off sooner, medical debt or student loan debt.

  • zephae

    @Chris: ” I understand the argument that this $118 billion was already approved. If Treasury passes the hat between the rest of the G20 and gets it interest free, then there’s no constitutional problem bringing it in. If, as seems more likely, they will issue new bonds to raise it without Congressional authorization,”

    Clearly you don’t understand my argument, though, because you not only bypassed my central point (italics) but also continued with the weird conclusion that the President would be able to “borrow against the United States at will, in whatever amount he feels appropriate”. My point is that Congressional appropriation ARE AUTHORIZATION for the treasury to borrow the balance of any appropriation not met with tax revenues. This argument does not in any way broaden or even comment on the power of the President, it merely defines and limits the powers of Congress, namely denying it the ability to default by statute.

  • Raskolnik

    Chris, that sounds like the beginnings of a workable solution. Certainly personal responsibility/liability is going to have to play a role. I like the idea of linking received care to preventive care: something along the lines of, if you eat healthy and exercise, you will pay less for a heart transplant (should you end up needing one). But that also relates to our obesity epidemic, and the fact that our agricultural subsidies make the unhealthiest and most chemical-preservative-ful calories at the supermarket, the cheapest calories at the supermarket…

    In any case, I think you’re right about the dangers of a Presidential overreach on the budget. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans, this is about the health of our system of divided powers and checks and balances. A default would be catastrophic, but handing the President unilateral budget authority is not the solution.

    zephae,

    That is certainly one viable interpretation, but I think it is premature to decide that it is the only viable interpretation. Then again I’m not entirely sure that I understood your point. If you wouldn’t mind, could you try explaining it again? Because, as I understand it, wouldn’t Treasury’s decision to continue borrowing come from the President, with whom (as a certain President once said) the buck stops?

    • zephae

      That is certainly one viable interpretation, but I think it is premature to decide that it is the only viable interpretation. Then again I’m not entirely sure that I understood your point. If you wouldn’t mind, could you try explaining it again? Because, as I understand it, wouldn’t Treasury’s decision to continue borrowing come from the President, with whom (as a certain President once said) the buck stops?

      Certainly. My point is this: The Constitution grants Congress the power to borrow on the full faith and credit of the United States. It has, however, delegated that power to the Executive Department of the Treasury with the limitation that Congress must authorize spending. Congressional budgets and spending bills that order the treasury to disburse a certain amount of fund are that authorization to borrow whatever balance is left over after tax revenues are used. Yet, the debt limit is also an authorization for the Treasury to borrow only up to a certain amount, in this case $14.3 trillion.

      Thus, we are left with two contradictory orders of Congress. The first orders the Treasury to borrow and spend money, which occurred when Congress passed a budget that was not balanced and that they knew would eventually exceed the debt limit, and the second tells it to stop at the defined limit. Therefore, all the President would be doing in ordering the Treasury to continue borrowing would be to tell the Treasury which order of Congress it should listen to, which is the same thing he would be doing if he allowed a default.

      There’s a Supreme Court case (can’t remember it off the top of my head right now) the defines Presidential authority when the Congress has disapproved of an action (twilight of Presidential power), has not commented/is unsure/is vague (situational), and has approved of the action (zenith of presidential power). I think this debt ceiling case falls into the second category where Congress vague or divided on this issue, and the President has the power to determine which Congressional order his Department will obey until the courts weigh in.

  • Raskolnik

    zephae,

    Many thanks for the clarification. As I said before, I can see your point, and that certainly sounds like a viable interpretation.

    The only other question that I have is whether the Congressional budget is considered an explicit or an implicit authorization. I am not an expert on Constitutional or any other kind of law, but as I understand it there is a jurisprudential preference for what is explicit. In other words, is the budget authorization explicitly considered an authorization to borrow? If not, why should preference be given to an implicit authorization over explicit legislation barring the Executive branch (in the form of the Treasury) from borrowing more? That is not a challenge, I honestly don’t know, and would love to learn more. Thanks again in advance.

  • zephae

    The only other question that I have is whether the Congressional budget is considered an explicit or an implicit authorization. I am not an expert on Constitutional or any other kind of law, but as I understand it there is a jurisprudential preference for what is explicit. In other words, is the budget authorization explicitly considered an authorization to borrow? If not, why should preference be given to an implicit authorization over explicit legislation barring the Executive branch (in the form of the Treasury) from borrowing more? That is not a challenge, I honestly don’t know, and would love to learn more.

    While I have studied the issue, I’m wouldn’t at all claim to be expert in it. From my point of view, it would seem to be the case that a budget is an explicit authorization to borrow in the sense that the Treasury is directed to meet the spending needs of the federal government by borrowing whatever tax revenue cannot cover. The debt ceiling is also explicit language on the subject. My analysis puts both of those obligations pretty much on the same level, but hinges on the idea that the 14th Amendment does not allow Congress to set a limit after authorizing appropriations, and thus the only other option wold be to follow the other Congressional order to borrow to meet the spending needs it sets, implicit or explicit. Again, it centers on powers of Congress, not the President.

  • Raskolnik

    zephae,

    It would probably help you to know that my main quarrel is with John Yoo’s loathsome “Unitary Executive” theory of Constitutional interpretation. In any case, while your analysis does appear sound, I would just like to reiterate how deeply I hope there will be a legislative compromise instead of a SCOTUS showdown.

  • Chris Balsz

    If the House votes for a raise in the debt limit, with conditions, that the Senate refuses to pass, has “Congressional inaction” enabled this “Presidential Power”?

    If Congress approves a raise in the debt limit, with conditions, that the President vetoes or refuses to sign while Congress is in recess, does that enbale this Presidential power?