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 ↓

  • medinnus

    *shrugs* That’s one interpretation. Others argue that Congress already approved the budget; that is sufficient. IF Obama has to use that option, and IF someone with standing (Not one branch of Congress, it would require both branches) takes it to the SCOTUS, they’ll have the final word.

  • Xunzi Washington

    “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.”

    In what way are some components of what is owed by the Government not “a debt”? If, for example, government workers don’t get paid, or Soc Sec checks aren’t sent out, etc., looks to me as if the Govt has not fulfilled its obligations to paid what is owed — for services or other contractual obligations, and so on — i.e. its debts.

    I don’t think of my “debts” as merely interest owed to people who have lent me money. I doubt that’s what the Framers meant either.

    • Nanotek

      “I don’t think of my “debts” as merely interest owed to people who have lent me money. I doubt that’s what the Framers meant either.”

      Xunzi Washington + 1

      earned entitlements seem on equal footing with other incurred debts

  • sweatyb

    Ajay, I humbly disagree with the sources you site, but I salute you for actually having sources. That minimal journalistic effort puts this piece in the top 10% of Frum Forum articles. Keep up the good work.

    I do think that the previous posters, (Xunzi and Medinnus) have given an accurate account of the counter-argument. Congress already authorized this spending and debt is debt. Faced with two contradictory laws (the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling limit) I think the Executive has the prerogative to follow the one that would not lead to an economic calamity.

  • jnail

    These are the weakest arguments I have seen on this subject. In fact if you look at the real scholarship on this issue the intent is very clear on the 14th.
    http://balkin.blogspot.com/2011/07/more-on-original-meaning-of-section.html

    It was setup to prevent future Congresses from reneging on past commitments and interpreted as such in the “Perry” case
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Perry_v._United_States/Opinion_of_the_Court:

    “The Fourteenth Amendment, in its fourth section, explicitly declares: ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, * * * shall not be questioned.’ While this provision was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation. We regard it as confirmatory of a fundamental principle which applies as well to the government bonds in question, and to others duly authorized by the Congress, as to those issued before the amendment was adopted. Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression ‘the validity of the public debt’ as embracing whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.”

    The killer line in this opinion is here:
    “We do not so read the Constitution…the Congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations.”

    Altering those obligations means that the terms of meeting them cannot be changed in anyway so even a default of a few days or a program to pay bills in some order with revenues is not allowed. So inaction that allows any sort of modification is out of the question as well.

    So the 14th/PERRY V. UNITED STATES makes it clear on the debt’s validity and the fact that it cannot be abrogated in anyway that diminishes the full faith and credit of the nation and its trust with any one owed money via a statute approved by Congress, be it your mom on SS, a cleaning contractor for a federal building or foreign nations holding bonds. All are equally valid and must be honored not prioritized and gotten to when the cash is there.

    These analyses also miss a secondary argument, slightly less compelling, is that in his job as Commander in Chief to protect the nation against any threats could be cited here. A default that plunges the nation into another recession and costs the taxpayers hundreds of billions in additional Federal interest payments and billions more in higher credit card, mortgage and consumer loans threatens the nation as much as any war or attack does. Not acting would weaken the nation considerably and his failure to protect the nation from this sort of “attack” would also be seen as a failure to fulfill his oath.

    Lets look at the President”s duties as he swore to them. The office of the President as “Chief Executive” is empowered by the Constitution that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”.

    He is also Constitutionally bound by his oath of office:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    This creates a slippery slope for any President. If Obama does not act to avert the crisis if negotiations fail that is a more compelling reason to Impeach than trying to claim that he exceeds his Constitutional power in resolving the crisis using the 14th.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    so even if it were to somehow eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court, they are going to throw the world into a great depression based on one possible interpretation of the Constitution?

    Bear in mind that stock market will have already taken a huge beating, our credit rating will be downgraded, would 5 members of the Court destroy the world to satisfy teabaggers, I think not.
    Here is PERRY V. UNITED STATES, 294 U. S. 330 (1935)
    4. There is a clear distinction between the power of Congress to control or interdict the contracts of private parties when they interfere with the exercise of its constitutional authority and a power in Congress to alter or repudiate the substance of its own engagements when it has borrowed money under its constitutional authority
    5. By virtue of the power to borrow money “on the credit of the United States,” Congress is authorized to pledge that credit as assurance of payment as stipulated — as the highest assurance the Government can give — its plighted faith. To say that Congress may withdraw or ignore that pledge is to assume that the Constitution contemplates a vain promise, a pledge having no other sanction than the pleasure and convenience of the pledgor.
    11. Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, declaring that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, . . . shall not be questioned,” is confirmatory of a fundamental principle, applying as well to bonds issued after, as to those issued before, the adoption of the Amendment, and the expression “validity of the public debt ” embraces whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.

    “The Constitution gives to the Congress the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States, an unqualified power, a power vital to the government, upon which in an extremity its very life may depend. The binding quality of the promise of the United States is of the essence of the credit which is so pledged. Having this power to authorize the issue of definite obligations for the payment of money borrowed, the Congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations.”

    • PracticalGirl

      so even if it were to somehow eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court, they are going to throw the world into a great depression based on one possible interpretation of the Constitution?

      +1

      When did defaulting on debts that Congress authorized-even demanded, in the case of extending our credit to continue the Bush tax cuts- become the American way?

  • Chris Balsz

    If the President even prepared to borrow money without authorization from Congress, the House can declare those debts unconstitutional, illegal, void, not part of the valid debt of the United States, and announce they will not be repaid. The Perry case refers constantly to the power granted only to CONGRESS to borrow money.

    Although the President could then sue to try to compel repayment, the damage to the creditworthiness of his unilateral bond sale would already be done in advance. It would not be successful even if the Supreme Court agreed a President has the unwritten power to borrow money.

    Every other President avoided this “crisis”. The fact is there is a general election next year; Barack Obama can promise to end Medicare, Social Security, and the IRS in 2020, and then stump for a solid Democrat Congress that will –lawfully–tear up anything done in 2011. In fact the current Congress comes back in 2012 to start the budget process over, and he can move to tear it up then. But Mr. Obama has already declared a unilateral power over the Congressional power to defund, in a signing statement on April 15th. Not even George III dared insist his ministers could not be defunded by Parliament, but this President has. He lacks a basic understanding of his office and the maturity to lead.

    • TerryF98

      More abject idiocy from Balsz. I thought you went “missing” after the last time your lunatic arguments got shredded here.

    • jnail

      You absolutely miss the entire point of “Perry” and what it very clearly states.

    • balconesfault

      Every other President avoided this “crisis”.

      Every other President was working with a legislature whose leadership wanted to avoid this crisis.

  • jnail

    The comment below adds another variable to the discussion and was posted on one of the articles referenced above.
    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2011/06/the-debt-limit-and-the-fourteenth-amendment.html

    “Perhaps there is a good argument that some combination of the current Appropriations Act, in conjunction with the Impoundment Control Act, has worked an implied repeal of the current statutory debt limitation to the extent that additional debt must be incurred to honor current appropriations. If that is the case, then I would agree that debts incurred to pay appropriated funds, even in excess of the current statutory debt ceiling, are “authorized by law” and within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment. I have not studied that issue, which likely turns on the precise wording of the various enactments, and must surmount the presumption against implied repeals. The constitutional argument without more, however, seems to me quite weak, unless I am missing something.”

    Larry Rosenthal
    Chapman University School of Law

    Seems to me that there are lots of compelling supports for a 14th solution and very little of any substance against the President fullfilling his overall obligation of protecting the nation from all enemies “foreign and domestic”.

    • Chris Balsz

      1. The Constitution explicitly grants the power to borrow, to the Congress.
      2. Perry v US was about a Congressional action to repudiate payments of debts Congress authorized. It had nothing to do with a presumptive unilateral Executive power to borrow.
      3. The decision in Perry refers repeatedly to Congress as holding the sole soveriegn power to borrow, and that Congress must honor ” the government bonds in question, and to others duly authorized by the Congress”. It says nothing about public debt not duly authorized by Congress.
      4. Your interpretation that the President enjoys emergency powers to unilaterally borrow money has never been applied in the history of the Republic.
      5. The powers of the purse were a bitter issue of contention between King and Parliament for 200 years before the creation of Congress, and were well understood by the Founders in drafting our own constitution. The Executive was made reliant on the Legislature for all spending.

      So much for the constitutional argument, and you have NOTHING beyond supposition to argue that. You can’t point to a single precedent for a President borrowing money to avoid getting authority from Congress.

      And there’s the political points:

      1. Nobody outside the US gives a damn about the constitutional argument.
      2. If the Republicans wish to repudiate this illegal debt, they will be heard and believed, and there’s nothing you can do to stop them being heard and believed.

      If you have anything against that beyond the Audacity of Hope, please cite sources.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    jnail, too funny. you got there first.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Baltz:

    “If the President even prepared to borrow money without authorization from Congress, the House can declare those debts unconstitutional, illegal, void, not part of the valid debt of the United States, and announce they will not be repaid. ”

    So you’re saying that Congress can pass law X that commits the government to debts Y, but then right after passing X they can declare Y unconstitutional?

    Are you seriously suggesting that? If so, t’s time for the meds.

    • TerryF98

      That’s exactly what he is suggesting, the guy is a certifiable lunatic.

      • Chris Balsz

        “If the President even prepared to borrow money without authorization from Congress, the House can declare those debts unconstitutional, illegal, void, not part of the valid debt of the United States, and announce they will not be repaid. ”

        So you’re saying that Congress can pass law X that commits the government to debts Y, but then right after passing X they can declare Y unconstitutional? ”

        No. I’m saying after creating a budget A, and proposing Presidentially-disliked adequate funding plan B, they are not bound to support unconstitutional Executive Endrun 9FromOuterSpace. The President cannot raise funds by promising forced labor, he can’t raise funds by tranferring private property in eminent domain, and he can’t borrow without permission from Congress. If he were to contract to do any of those things, they are void and the Congress can say so up front to stop him.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “If the President even prepared to borrow money without authorization from Congress, the House can declare those debts unconstitutional, illegal, void, not part of the valid debt of the United States, and announce they will not be repaid.”
    How, pray tell, will they declare these debts void without utterly destroying the credit of the United States. When any Republican dares borrow one dollar in deficit spending, what fool would dare buy it?
    I am astounded at the utter and complete foolishness of this poster. How anyone can think such drivel is realistic is beyond me.

    And Balzs shows yet again how little he knows of history.
    http://balkin.blogspot.com/2011/06/legislative-history-of-section-four-of.html

    • Chris Balsz

      I read that. Didn’t see one sentence about the President having the power to create new debt without permission from Congress.

      This is the source of your confusion: You are all ADAMANT that the only way out is for the President to break the constitution and borrow money without authority from Congress.

      It isn’t.

      He can agree to the Republican funding proposal.

      • valkayec

        Chris, you need to read that analysis and history lesson again. The arguments being made at the time exactly covered what you’re writing about. The Republican Congress was afraid that once the Southern Dems regained power they would repudiate the debt or would default on the debt or they would threaten to default if their demands were not met. The 14th Amendment, Section 4, was written precisely to prevent any of those from occurring. Since Congress has already authorized the spending through the CR and previous budgets, etc, they’ve already consented to the spending. Thus, per the 14th Amendment, they are forbidden from not paying the debts they incurred. And as you know, the Constitution supercedes an ordinary law.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    and terry, look at this “gem” of derangement: Every other President avoided this “crisis”.
    (that is because no other congress has used debt ceiling hikes in this manner)
    The fact is there is a general election next year;
    (do tell, no one here knew that)
    Barack Obama can promise to end Medicare, Social Security, and the IRS in 2020,
    (what the hell is he talking about? Why the hell would Obama promise to end all of these things and expect to get a single vote from Democrats predicated on his somehow getting Congress to overturn these) and then stump for a solid Democrat Congress that will –lawfully–tear up anything done in 2011.
    (this guy is nuts, it is like he never heard of the filibuster. I really think he must be braindamaged in some way, his neural connections create this bizarro world of logic wherein all his Conservonuts fantasies get implemented and pretending to be reasonable by saying Democrats can then overturn the law while he himself expects Obama to lose. Utterly bizarre)

    • Chris Balsz

      I believe Bill Clinton would have agreed to as much as was needed to get the money, and then spent 18 months damning the Republican debt deal, and asking for a friendly Congress to destroy it. Perhaps that is my derangement, to think Clinton was better at the job than Obama.

    • TerryF98

      I gave up on Balsz after his second ever post here. He is even more of a RW nutter than NHnonthinker and that is saying something. He couches utter gibberish in legal sounding language and then expects you to swallow it hook line and sinker.

  • sinz54

    medinnus: “IF Obama has to use that option, and IF someone with standing (Not one branch of Congress, it would require both branches) takes it to the SCOTUS, they’ll have the final word.”

    And since the Supreme Court is split right down the middle, it means that Justice Stevens–the swing vote on the Court–could end up causing a Federal default, or not.

    Does anybody want such a critical decision for our country to rest on the shoulders of one unelected judge?

    • medinnus

      Absolutely not.

      The best way is for both sides to come to an agreement.

      That is not to be interpreted as “Give me everything I want or I shoot the hostage”.

      The GOP has no way to win this battle, was my point. If they had the welfare of the country in mind, they would therefore choose the best of several losing options – come to an agreement, and not subject the Debt Ceiling to a Constitutional challenge.

      But if the children who purport to be Conservatives (and they aren’t – see this article by Fareed Zakaria as for why they aren’t: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2077943,00.html ) are set in their delusion that a default won’t have badly negative repercussions, they’re in a fools’ paradise.

    • blowtorch_bob

      …not to mention the merry chase for WMD’s instigated by GWB which turned out to be nonexistent and added hundreds of billions to the debt.

  • Open thread: President to solve nation’s problems in 140 characters or less « Hot Air

    [...] here to watch. A tough constitutional question on the debt ceiling or the War Powers Act would alone make this worth watching, but since part of this exercise is to [...]

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Chris Balsz, do yourself a favor and stop posting. You should understand your writing: unconstitutional Executive Endrun 9FromOuterSpace.
    Makes you seem totally daft. Who the hell talks like this except maybe cartoon writers?
    Why the hell do you hate America so much that you would see it default, that millions of elderly not get their social security checks? Dude you are batshit insane as is anyone who states that defaulting on our national debt is something casually done.

    How about this you anti-Democrat. How about Republicans cut these items during the times they enact the budget? How about they also run next year on cutting medicare, medicaid, social security, and taxes and let the American people decide?
    So would you be alright if next time a Republican is President and a democratic congress state that they will default unless taxes are raised to pay for every dollar in debt increases, no tax cuts whatsoever? This would be just as big a horseshit as Republicans holding our country hostage.

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?

  • Xunzi Washington

    Sinz
    ]
    “Does anybody want such a critical decision for our country to rest on the shoulders of one unelected judge?”

    Well let’s see, Sinz. Let’s say it comes down to default. Here are our options: we could default, the fault of the nutcases you were giddy about voting for in 2010, or we could pull out the 14th, prevent default, and THEN leave it in the hands of an unelected judge.

    Which one do you prefer? Certain default, or possible default?

    Balsz

    It is not “new debt”. It is the same debt incurred by the programs and services authorized by Congress. You don’t pay, you threaten the full faith and credit of the nation, which won’t hinge on your pathetic attempts (forthcoming, I have no doubt) to play semantics with the word “new”. Geez, man, at some point this batshit nuts crap has to end.

    • Chris Balsz

      Xuni: The obligations on existing contracts are existing debt. The payments due on those obligations are existing debts.

      Issuing new contracts, to raise money in 2011, for payment of existing debts, to be repaid over 10, 20, 30 years at interest, would be new debt.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    This is the source of your confusion: You are all ADAMANT that the only way out is for the President to break the constitution and borrow money without authority from Congress.
    It isn’t.
    He can agree to the Republican funding proposal.

    No, he CAN’T. He must not. For the sake of the future he must not cave into Republican hostage taking.
    You are officially getting into serious Fascist tendencies here, blowing off our Democracy. You are talking evil shit here.
    If any Democrat Congress played the same game (and not one has) I would lambaste them as well.
    They can state: Raise taxes, make gay marriage legal in every state, legalize drugs, force draconian gun laws, etc. All to get a debt increase. Where the hell would it end? And if you think any Republican government can balance the budget you are even stupider than you come across here.
    Why the hell do you hate Democracy so much for?

    There literally is no other word for this then hostage taking, and that is an evil act.

    Again, they want to cut medicare, run on it, get the White House, Senate, and House of Representives and then cut to their hearts content. I wouldn’t like it, but it is what it is. Bush’s tax cuts were legal, they failed, but they were legal.
    But holding one house of congress to enact their agenda is just effing evil.

    • Chris Balsz

      Wrong. It’s no more evil than a Democrat Senate and a Democrat President putting progressive judges on the Supreme Court without reference to the Republican House. That’s in the Constitution.

      The House gets control of the funding.

      As for gutting democracy, you are setting up every future President to have unlimited funding power, by simply refusing to agree with Congress until he has to employ his new emergency powers to sell bonds. I’m not gonna put party labels into that formula. That’s a recipe for disaster.

  • Chris Balsz

    “So would you be alright if next time a Republican is President and a democratic congress state that they will default unless taxes are raised to pay for every dollar in debt increases, no tax cuts whatsoever? This would be just as big a horseshit as Republicans holding our country hostage.”

    Seems to me we have a Democrat President and a Democrat Senate, and we have a debt-ceiling impasse right now precisely because they will not approve the House funding proposals without some tax hikes. Called them on it yet?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Xunzi Washington,
    I think it is beyond batshit crazy, I think it does verge on an authoritarian mindset, that Democratic institutions should be damned, that partisan positioning and kowtowing to nutbag teabaggers is paramount.

    Believe it or not, I still think a deal will be done. Obama has an ace up his sleeve, next year he will let all the Bush tax cuts expire. The worse thing is that there will be 2 trillion dollars worth of cuts and 4.6 trillion (or more) of tax hikes. Some defeat. And since a lot of the cuts will be back ended, if the economy recovers well enough some of them might be rescinded.
    Obama is just showing America how truly sick these people are, how completely devoid of love for our country, how uncompromising they are.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Frumple is dead on.

    It amazes me that conservatives — CONSERVATIVES! — can look themselves in the mirror and argue that a “negotiation” position that threatens the economic stability of the United States is in any way acceptable.

    I don’t use the word “treason” lightly. But this seems damn close to it, if you ask me.

  • Houndentenor

    Congress needs to do its job. Either raise the debt limit or make alterations to spending and/or revenue to pay for the current spending plus the debt already accrued.

    This is their job. If they can’t pass a budget on time they should be fired. We wouldn’t put up with this kind of bs from employees, I don’t know why we tolerate it from elected officials.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Balls: Seems to me we have a Democrat President and a Democrat Senate, and we have a debt-ceiling impasse right now precisely because they will not approve the House funding proposals without some tax hikes. Called them on it yet?

    Why would I call them on doing precisely the reason why I voted for a Democrat President and Senate, so that there will be compromises on both sides, that both sides give. Why else have divided government?
    No for Fascists, it is your way or no way. Of course I want to see tax hikes to get the deficit down, I would rather see it play out in the normal budget process. Why can’t you acknowledge that?

    Now you are just starting to irritate me, you are not worth talking with since you have a authoritarian mindset. You have not called on Republicans to compromise by accepting tax hikes in addition to spending cuts (which you want, and I accept that)

    I would call Democrats out if they stated only tax hikes, with no spending cuts, should be used to bring down the deficit. There is a Republican house so it will never pass.

    You are completely unreasonable.

  • sparse

    balsz is totally nuts.

    yeah, then i went on to type some other stuff, but soon realized i was done in four words.

  • Graychin

    “Sorry, the Debt Limit Looks Constitutional…” – to some observers.

    Sorry, but I’m not convinced. Congress already appropriated the funds to be spent between August 2 and September 30. The Executive Branch has not only the right, but the DUTY to see that the just debts of the United States are paid on time.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Xunzi, don’t let the whackjobs like Balzs get to you. I think the Republicans are replicating what they did during the budget debate earlier this year. The markets have been pretty stable, I have to imagine that the Republicans are saying behind closed doors that they won’t destroy wall street to satisfy lunatics like Balzs.

    I don’t think it will get to the point where the 14th amendment is invoked. Republicans would go apeshit, they would try to impeach Obama, I would daresay some nutjob would attempt to assassinate Obama. Teabaggers think that they are going to win and Obama is simply going to take the ball away and go home?
    How can anyone think that this turmoil is what Republicans wants? Then frankly Republicans are a traitor to the American people, They would betray peace and security of our nation just so they can stay in power in a country that will then be ungovernable?
    Look, Obama can say this to Republicans behind closed doors, that the 14th amendment option is better than default but is frankly insane with wildly unpredictable consequences. Bringing it into the open makes it easier to accept by politicos, but the teabaggers are freaking insane assholes, why would either side want to provoke lord knows what.
    Because of this I think there will be a deal, with most of it on the back end. I think there will be eliminations of some tax breaks with vague promises of Republican inspired reform at a later date
    I will never, ever vote for a Republican for the rest of my life if they force default though. More than that, I will likely withdraw all my money out of the US and invest it somewhere more stable, like Zimbabwe.

  • jmp

    It’s plain and simple: If the US defaults, Congress will have abdicated one of its primary responsibilities under the Constitution.

    Only Congress can create revenue policy. Only Congress can create spending policy. The deficit isn’t the fault of the Treasury, or any one administration. The deficit is the cumulative effect of policies passed by Congress, when combined with real world economic conditions. (Guess what? When GDP shrinks, so do revenues!) The Treasury is in charge of implementing the policies that come from Congress.

    If we get to the point at which the Treasury cannot continue to use the revenues it collects as directed by Congress to pay both the cost of maintaining the debt (created by past Congressionally-approved policies) and the cost of spending that has been directed by Congress because it has come up against the limit on total debt set by Congress, it’s hard to see how the blame falls anywhere other than Congress.

    Now, it’s clear from the 14th Amendment that Congress cannot order the Treasury to default on the debt. In the absence of other legislation, Treasury will have no choice but to make it up as they go along as far as figuring out how to prioritize other spending. If Congress really wants Treasury to stop borrowing, they have to tell Treasury where to stop spending, which they haven’t been able to do. To simply let time go on and see what happens would be the ultimate abdication of Congressional responsibility.

  • Chris Balsz

    “Because of this I think there will be a deal, with most of it on the back end. I think there will be eliminations of some tax breaks with vague promises of Republican inspired reform at a later date.”

    That would be a better outcome than destroying the checks and balances of the Constitution by creating unchecked borrowing power by every President to come, just because you trust THIS President more than THIS Congress.

  • Candy83

    Debt ceiling will be raised.

  • Sinan

    The issue relates to continued funding and payment of past debts due authorized and spent by Congress which are part of the number used to raise the limit on borrowing. Every day the Treasury takes in X and borrows Y. The amount we take in on a daily basis is about 50%-60% of our daily expenditures roughly. The delta is sold on the markets as bonds or tbills. The accumulation of debt sold in this fashion makes up the debt limit. The wording of the 14th amendment would definitely lead one to believe that the government must use the monies brought in every day (X) to pay down previous debts incurred and authorized by Congress first before paying off new expenses. But then one just ask what is a debt? Is it only interest bearing debt or is an obligation to provide a service also a debt? This was raised in a case whereby a man said SS was an obligatory debt not a voluntary payment. He lost.

    I think Balz is right on the law myself. I also think this entire issue is a childish game by the GOP of Russian Roullette but this is what these Tea Baggers said they would do and they are doing it. It is now up to the nation to see if they want any more of this medicine.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Frumple –

    Oh he doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the hypocrisy and lack of moral core of the Republican party.

    Balsz –

    Balsz it is hard to take you seriously.

    If the President used the 14th Amendment, it does not create unchecked borrowing power to the president. Only on Bizarro World is this the case. What it does is empower the president to assure that PRESENT debts incurred by PRESENT laws created by CONGRESS are honored. It does not give the president the power to create new laws and then spend accordingly.

    What your nutjob Congress is asserting, on the other hand, is the unchecked ability to simply threaten to blow up the country if the other Senate and President to not concede to all of their demands.

    Which is worse for the system? I’m asking this rhetorically, because I don’t expect an honest reply from you.

    • Chris Balsz

      “If the President used the 14th Amendment, it does not create unchecked borrowing power to the president. Only on Bizarro World is this the case. What it does is empower the president to assure that PRESENT debts incurred by PRESENT laws created by CONGRESS are honored. It does not give the president the power to create new laws and then spend accordingly. ”

      What’s the check? Repudiating the extra bonds?

      It’s wholly American for one party to press its advantage. If you have to take to the streets in nonviolent protest to block them until you can vote the bastards out…so what?

  • Xunzi Washington

    Balsz

    “What’s the check? Repudiating the extra bonds?”

    The check on WHAT? Paying the debt on already incurred obligations?

    “It’s wholly American for one party to press its advantage. If you have to take to the streets in nonviolent protest to block them until you can vote the bastards out…so what?”

    First of all, it’s not “American” to press one’s advantage. You think before 1776 people didn’t do this? Second, if you think that “pressing one’s advantage” honorably and as a matter of non-treason can involve threatening to destroy the country’s economic system, then I’m not sure what I can really say to you that would merit the time to type it out.

    • Chris Balsz

      The check on the President, facing X amount of bond payments due, and somehow unable to agree with Congress about paying it, and realizing he has a duty and full authority to borrow X without asking Congress, to save the Republic. And then ordering the sale of 125% of X in bonds.
      What’s the barrier to that unilateral decision?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    balsz, you are making zero sense. Congress authorizes spending but then won’t either raise the debt ceiling or raise taxes and cut spending somehow becomes completely Obama’s fault, especially when he has already agreed to cut spending? Congress has the power of the purse, the time to use it is when they create the budget. There is nothing in the Constitution about giving Congress the power to create a debt ceiling. Show me where it is. There is a clause in the 14th amendment stating that Congress has to pay the debt.

    Balsz, they are not even cutting spending now, but years from now. It is a totally bullshit argument. There is no reason that they can not run on this platform in 2012 of balancing the budget and getting rid of medicare, medicaid, etc. There is no reason other than partisan hostage taking for what you advocate.

    Anyway, there is no discussing this with you. You are completely off the rails. Obama has to cave into one branch of Congress or otherwise HE is irresponsible, and the Democratic Senate has to do the same.

    You have an authoritarian mindset. There is no other word I know of to explain how evil this line of thought is. You do not even try to rebut it.

    And how can you say I trust this President more than I trust this Congress when I believe a deal with be done? That makes no sense.

    So go ahead, cite to me the passage in the Constitution that gives Congress the right to impose a debt ceiling. And show me the logic of Congress authorizing spending, not authorizing funding necessary to pay for that spending, and also deciding to not authorize borrowing to cover that spending.

    Only a complete and utter moron would see logic in that.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Frumple + 1

    For one, his arguments make no sense at all. Moreover, and more importantly, when this person can’t admit that threatening to wreck the economy as a way argue for “one’s advantage” (after all…is “one” an American first, before being a Republican, or second?) is not acceptable, in any sense of acceptable – morally, in a civic sense, whatever – there’s no arguing with him.

    He is part of the very problem itself.

    • Chris Balsz

      I imagine my great-great-grandfather said the same thing about organized labor.

      Can you explain the “check” on the President’s power to sell bonds? Apart from hoping she chooses to use it properly?

      • Frumplestiltskin

        The check will be Congress balancing the budget, hence there will be no need to sell bonds. Again, you are talking gibberish. Congress mandates spending, does not provide adequate funding, and refuses to allow borrowing. What the hell can the administration do in that case?

  • mbowdoin

    Whatever happened to “the Constitution is not a suicide pact?” The 2nd Amendment guarantees the right of the citizenry to be armed, but, apparently, not with nuclear weapons. It would seem to be well within my Constitutionally protected rights for me to own an ICBM, but we’ve agreed that that kind of restriction is constitutional because the “Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

    There are, of course, other examples where we do not allow the Constitution’s clear and plain language to force us into an untenable position. How is the debt limit not a clear example of such a situation? Sure looks like economic suicide if we don’t pay our debts — even if that means incurring more debt.

    What I’d like to see the Pres. do is demand a clean unencumbered debt ceiling increase or nothing. The GOP will not, in the final analysis, let us default since their primary constituency will hurt first and (in gross terms) the worst. Let Wall Street sweat the GOP. I guarantee you they will fold.

    • Chris Balsz

      “What I’d like to see the Pres. do is demand a clean unencumbered debt ceiling increase or nothing. The GOP will not, in the final analysis, let us default since their primary constituency will hurt first and (in gross terms) the worst. Let Wall Street sweat the GOP. I guarantee you they will fold.”

      That’s totally constitutional.
      And it would probably work.

  • Chris Balsz

    “So go ahead, cite to me the passage in the Constitution that gives Congress the right to impose a debt ceiling. And show me the logic of Congress authorizing spending, not authorizing funding necessary to pay for that spending, and also deciding to not authorize borrowing to cover that spending. ”

    Article I gives Congress sole authority to borrow. If Congress chooses to borrow X amount at any one time, that’s that. You might as well question the Congressional authority to have a limited budget instead of open-ended expenditure as the Cabinet finds necessary.

    As for “authoritarian”, suggesting that the President can raise money without reference to Congress is pretty “authoritarian”. If there’s some inherent check to that unwritten power once it’s put into practice, please spell it out. I question the good faith of “instructing” us about this unprecedented, undefined presidential power, which you never want used, and only bring up for leverage.

    You expect there’s going to be a deal, so, spare me the breast-beating about how you realize losing control of the House of Representatives costs your side something. Yes, losing the House means you have to negotiate the money. Losing the Senate means negotiating judges and treaties. Boo. Freakin. Hoo.

  • llbroo49

    I guess now we see how Chris Balsz handles his” kitchen table” issues and is merely trying to apply them on a national level.

    Can you imagine what it sounds like in his house when his spouse is low on gas or needs to buy groceries on a credit card? I guess that the debt she incurs to cover these expenses above and over the budget are deemed illegal and he is not required to repay them.

  • PatrickQuint

    “What your nutjob Congress is asserting, on the other hand, is the unchecked ability to simply threaten to blow up the country if the other Senate and President to not concede to all of their demands.”

    If Congress decided to defund the entire military and leave the country defenseless, they could vote that way. They could do this by refusing to approve a military appropriations bill, for example. It would make them bad people, and congressmen who choose to do so should get thrown out, but the only power I have over the vote of electors and politicians is the power of persuasion.

    People can vote for economically suicidal politicians if they like. It’s unwise, but quite lawful.

    I think I’ll go lobby some politicians on this.

    I like the argument that passing a budget that would cause the debt ceiling to be exceeded is an implicit repeal of the debt ceiling, if it comes to it. Congress contradicted itself. Spending would break one law (debt ceiling). Refusing to spend would break another (budget). The chronologically later one would take precedence. That’s definitely one avenue.

    I also find the 14th amendment argument to be a strong one in the face of the debt ceiling, but I’m not so sure as to the proper execution of it. Congress is required to borrow (14th), but only Congress has the power to borrow (Article I, Section 8, Clause 2). The remedy I think is not for the President to override the Congress on this, but rather for Congress to be somehow forced to do its job. I’m not sure what the legal remedy is for an elected Congress that fails to meet its constitutional obligations, but I’m pretty sure Presidential say-so isn’t it. That sounds like a Supreme Court case to me.

    Then, if the President really feels like it, he can do something illegal and/or unconstitutional if the people around him are willing to execute the order. The law and constitution have no power if people who are supposed to enforce them simply ignore the documents. Note that this may indeed be the moral thing to do in some cases (re: civil disobedience). It’s certainly been done before and I’d be shocked if it weren’t done again.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Patrick,

    I’m not so sure that the Congress could vote to make the country defenseless. Sure they can vote on whatever they want – God won’t swoop in and stop them and the police or Feds won’t bust in and arrest them. But it would not be constitutional, as would default. Also, I said what the current Congress is doing doesn’t just make them “bad people” it makes them borderline treasonous. There’s a difference between the two.

    Balsz

    The fact that you think your great grand-pappy’s drunken dinner table musings about how labor was destroying the country is equivalent in some whack job way to the economic disaster that would immediately follow defaulting on the US’s debt is proof positive that you are not worth arguing with.

    • Chris Balsz

      A general strike is nothing but a threat to an economic system to get something.

      Your polemic has been called. We all know you have absolutely no intention of granting future Republican presidents this unchecked power of borrowing; you only mention it to try and raise the pressure to avoid concessions. We have the kryptonite: a public, partisan repudiation of the new debt. I’m sure the Chicoms would understand, although they couldn’t approve.
      Consider the ploy dead, and go back to the old fashioned method of rallying the proles against the EEEEEVILLLL republicans.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Balsz,

    A general strike is not a threat to the US, it is a threat to a company. Are you a moron or are you just pretending? I can’t figure out whether you are being disingenuous or really don’t know that you are talking complete bullshit. Hopefully for your sake it is the former.

    Your ridiculous claim about bonds went unanswered because it is, well, ridiculous. If a Republican president is faced with a situation in which bond interest on bonds already created cannot be paid without authorizing more bonds, I would have no problem with such an order. If a Republican president wanted to create new programs on her own and pay for them with bonds, that would be a problem.

    Obama would be doing the former, not the latter. Please be intellectually honest here, and stop wasting everyone’s time.

    I’ll say it again: if you honestly think that threatening the immediate re-collapse of the American economy is a position a politician can take to get his/her way, you are way, way, beyond the scope of rational discussion.

    • ottovbvs

      Are you a moron or are you just pretending?

      No…there’s no doubt about it he’s completely crazy as a brief perusal of his many contributions amply demonstrates.

      On the wider issue of these legal opinions this rather smells of venue shopping. I’ve little doubt three legal opinions could be found to claim disregarding the debt limit is entirely constitutional. Given that Obama taught constitutional law at one of the finest law schools in the country this is a matter on which I’m sure he’s better informed than Boehner and the general run of Republican congressmen. Intuitively I doubt he’ll go this route but I’ve absolutely no doubt he’s taken a look at it. It would be a masterstroke if he did.

    • Chris Balsz

      Look up “general strike”. If it were against one company it would not be a “general strike”. They’ve been illegal in the US since before WW2, although openly proposed as a labor tactic from the 1880s, so I guess it’s not something you’re familiar with.

      “If a Republican president is faced with a situation in which bond interest on bonds already created cannot be paid without authorizing more bonds, I would have no problem with such an order.”

      Then you support tyranny. At least you’re nonpartisan.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    The check will be Congress balancing the budget, hence there will be no need to sell bonds. Again, you are talking gibberish. Congress mandates spending, does not provide adequate funding, and refuses to allow borrowing. What the hell can the administration do in that case?

    Balsz simply refuses to answer this. Wait, is he saying that Obama has to cave into Republican demands that there be future specified cuts with zero tax hikes and then they will raise the debt limit now. So it is not the debt limit that is the issue, it is forcing his own fiscal policy using extraordinary measures outside of anything that has ever before been done in American history.

    “We have the kryptonite: a public, partisan repudiation of the new debt.” What are you, 8 years old. Superman analogies? Oh wait, you are actually Lex Luthor. This chucklehead can’t even keep his cartoon characters straight (although he is technically right, they are the evil people trying to bring down America)

    Democrats also have the other option of simply destroying the 1.6 trillion in debt that they already owe to themselves, this will put the debt ceiling back by a year and leave Republicans completely boned.

    And yes, the US Treasury holds about 1.6 trillion in debt.
    “The basic story is that the Fed has bought roughly $1.6 trillion in government bonds through its various quantitative easing programs over the last two and a half years. This money is part of the $14.3 trillion debt that is subject to the debt ceiling. However, the Fed is an agency of the government. Its assets are in fact assets of the government. Each year, the Fed refunds the interest earned on its assets in excess of the money needed to cover its operating expenses. Last year the Fed refunded almost $80 billion to the Treasury. In this sense, the bonds held by the Fed are literally money that the government owes to itself.

    Unlike the debt held by Social Security, the debt held by the Fed is not tied to any specific obligations. The bonds held by the Fed are assets of the Fed. It has no obligations that it must use these assets to meet. There is no one who loses their retirement income if the Fed doesn’t have its bonds. In fact, there is no direct loss of income to anyone associated with the Fed’s destruction of its bonds. This means that if Congress told the Fed to burn the bonds, it would in effect just be destroying a liability that the government had to itself, but it would still reduce the debt subject to the debt ceiling by $1.6 trillion. This would buy the country considerable breathing room before the debt ceiling had to be raised again.”

    This would completely kneecap Balsz. Now I don’t agree with doing this because of this:
    The effect on the money supply is given by the following formula:
    MS=Mb*mm,
    mm=(1+c)/(c+R),
    MS = Money Supply
    Mb = Monetary base
    mm = money multiplier
    c = rate at which people hold cash (as opposed to depositing it), equal to one minus marginal propensity to consume
    R = the reserve requirement (the percent of deposits that banks are not allowed to lend)
    There is another possible route to avoiding financial armageddon, but it too requires the cooperation of the Fed. There is a provision of law that, in an emergency, permits the Treasury to borrow directly from the Fed:
    31 USC § 5301. Buying obligations of the United States Government
    (a) The President may direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make an agreement with the Federal reserve banks and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System when the President decides that the foreign commerce of the United States is affected adversely because—
    (1) the value of coins and currency of a foreign country compared to the present standard value of gold is depreciating;
    (2) action is necessary to regulate and maintain the parity of United States coins and currency;
    (3) an economic emergency requires an expansion of credit; or
    (4) an expansion of credit is necessary so that the United States Government and the governments of other countries can stabilize the value of coins and currencies of a country.
    (b) Under an agreement under subsection (a) of this section, the Board shall permit the [Federl Reserve] banks (and the Board is authorized to permit the banks notwithstanding another law) to agree that the banks will—
    (1) conduct through each entire specified period open market operations in obligations of the United States Government or corporations in which the Government is the majority stockholder; and
    (2) buy directly and hold an additional $3,000,000,000 of obligations of the Government for each agreed period, unless the Secretary consents to the sale of the obligations before the end of the period.
    (c) With the approval of the Secretary, the Board may require Federal reserve banks to take action the Secretary and Board consider necessary to prevent unreasonable credit expansion.
    ____________________
    One would have to take a look at the legislative history to figure out just what this is all about, but the language is probably adequate on its face, particularly the phrase “notwithstanding another law,” such as the debt ceiling. $3 billion a day is roughly the rate of the deficit, but the language is ambiguous as to whether this can cumulate or whether it is a $3 billion aggregate cap on direct borrowing. Or it might permit the Fed to by $3 billion a day and sell it in the open market. Again, one would have to look at the history to see whether the needed interpretation is an acceptable interpretation. This provision may be as antiquated as the debt ceiling itself.
    props to my buddy roi.

  • Chris Balsz

    “The check will be Congress balancing the budget, hence there will be no need to sell bonds. Again, you are talking gibberish. Congress mandates spending, does not provide adequate funding, and refuses to allow borrowing. What the hell can the administration do in that case?

    Balsz simply refuses to answer this.”

    I’ve answered it just about every post: NOTHING. There is no unilateral action open to the President because the Constitution denied him any independent authority to borrow more money or impose taxes.

    “Wait, is he saying that Obama has to cave into Republican demands that there be future specified cuts with zero tax hikes and then they will raise the debt limit now. So it is not the debt limit that is the issue, it is forcing his own fiscal policy using extraordinary measures outside of anything that has ever before been done in American history. ”

    I don’t think anybody here has any idea if that’s unprecedented. Because what you are describing is the Congress and the President coming to agreement on spending and borrowing, which is an annual occurrence. To say the level of gamesmanship is “unprecedented” would require knowledge of all such agreements.

    I can say having the President borrow without Congressional authority is “unprecedented” because none of them have even proposed doing it.

    “31 USC § 5301.”

    Oh, well there you go. Congress already agreed in advance to let him add $3 billion a “period” to the borrowing.

    Better tell Geitner, that may buy you time beyond July 22.

  • pnumi2

    “Calvin Massey, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California at Hastings … “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…”

    If the Supreme Court decides that the payable short term bills and notes can not be rolled over and that interest must then be paid existing bond holders before the Department of Defense gets a penny, I will eat Sheriff Woody’s cowboy hat.

    Also if Congress has the right to set, and raise or not raise the debt ceiling, it follows that they have, by extension, the right to lower the debt ceiling. I have read nothing that says a debt ceiling can not be lowered. Have any of you.

    Think of the mischief that subsequent Congresses will be able to make.

  • Xunzi Washington

    Balsz,

    If general strikes have been illegal since WWII, and you think this is analogous to the Republican position, this may inform you a bit about the line of bat shit you’ve been peddling here today. No, you’re a bit dense. Maybe not.

    So if the President issues bonds to cover interest payments on bonds already issued — to prevent a default on the “real” debt of the US, as the Constitution demands, that is tyranny? Good lord. Your’re hopeless.

    And you compare such a position with the newly minted political tool of intentionally derailing the economy to make ideological political points.

    What F-n planet do you live on? Do you have any shame?

    • Chris Balsz

      “So if the President issues bonds to cover interest payments on bonds already issued — to prevent a default on the “real” debt of the US, as the Constitution demands, that is tyranny? Good lord. Your’re hopeless. ”

      Yes. If the President does something the Constitution says only Congress can do, that is tyranny: arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.

      • Xunzi Washington

        Holy crap, Balsz, you’ve gone off the rails again.

        “Yes. If the President does something the Constitution says only Congress can do, that is tyranny: arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.”

        1. The Constitution SAYS that the public debt of the US shall not be in question. Which means: defaulting on bond interest is non-Constitutional.
        2. Do you know what the words “arbitrary” “unrestrained” and “despotic” mean, or are you just listening to too much Mark Levin? They mean “without reason” or “to suit only one’s personal interests” and “without check”.

        a) Not arbitrary: required to meet Constitutional demands.
        b) Not unrestrained: when the interest is repaid, the authority ends, and does not extend to new programs or obligations not currently in play via US laws.
        c) Not despotic: has nothing to do with strengthening one’s personal power at the expense of the democratic process – it is merely holding Congress to its own debt obligations.

        • Chris Balsz

          Powers invented and asserted by a sitting President for himself contrary to the enumeration of powers in the Articles, to avoid the policy concessions likely to be paid by following the Constitution, are exactly “without reason, unrestrained, and for personal interest.” You have proved this when you list the “limits” on this power, which you have invented as you typed them. There is no precedent to cite, or third-party check to this power. And it only comes up now that Barack Obama is president. Somehow this deeply learned scholar failed to tell George W. Bush that when Senator Obama voted against raising the debt limit, President Bush was empowered to sell bonds anyhow.

      • medinnus

        Balsz is quite partisan-deranged on the subject; why people feel the need to respond to his responses are beyond me, since his “principles” regarding the expansion of Executive power clearly don’t extend back to the huge expansions of the Patriot Act and the Bush administration.

        Just as the same idiot liberals who railed against them don’t say a word when Obama expands them again.

        Obama needs to be impeached for covering up the Bush administration war crimes (torture).

  • Xunzi Washington

    “Also if Congress has the right to set, and raise or not raise the debt ceiling, it follows that they have, by extension, the right to lower the debt ceiling. I have read nothing that says a debt ceiling can not be lowered. Have any of you. ”

    Actually, I think our friend Balsz believes this. He thinks Congress can pass laws resulting in X monetary obligations, contract such services, and then declare the monetary obligations unconstitutional at will, effectively opening the door to lowering the debt limit below the rate of monetary obligations we previously contracted or legislated. Hell, we could even go to zero, and stiff everyone!

    • ottovbvs

      Why do you waste your time arguing with this moron? It’s surely obvious by now that you are deep in lampshade territory.

      • Xunzi Washington

        Agreed.

        Or “deep in the la-la land of the Mark Levin listener” which is probably a distinction without a difference anyway.

      • TerryF98

        I second that! There are certain people here who are so bat-shit insane it’s like talking to the guy who stands on the corner yelling “The end is nigh”

        Balsz is a prime one, closely followed by WillyP (could be the same person) and NHnonthinker. These guys make Carney look like a genius, as for JimBob well he is just a sad case.

        • ottovbvs

          Unfortunately an increasing number of refugees from far right sites seem to have discovered Frum’s existence. They are awfully boring after one has exhausted the opportunities for mild humor at their expense. Why anyone falls into the trap of extended debate with them is a mystery to me. I don’t mind an extended arm wrestle with anyone but these guys define lampshades.

  • NRA Liberal

    The real issue is…who gets the blame if a failure to raise the ceiling causes economic havoc.

    • valkayec

      While the “blame” game may be fun or entertaining, the real is what the consequences will be to the nation’s and world economy, the value of dollar and its reserve currency status, and the vastly increased national deficit (estimated probably to be much higher than the spending cuts being discussed).

      As an additional note, the financial industry and businesses in general have stepped up their lobbying amongst Republicans to raise the debt ceiling. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover a few funding threats being made as well. Some are even suggesting they’ll accept higher taxes rather than allowing a default. After all, they know they can always lobby for lower taxes and tax breaks later; they can’t lobby a reversal of a Depression.

  • jonnybutter

    I wonder why Frum is pushing this line? He’s just quoting a couple of professors. As he surely must know, the judiciary is not immune to politics, and court cases are not decided by law professors. Obama would probably win this case – since it’s basically a ‘tie’ anyway. You can read all the case law you want – it’s an ambiguity. From my point of view, the best thing to do is for Obama to announce that he will under no circumstances allow even a ‘technical’ default on the Federal debt. The constitutional crisis which would ensue would be somewhat risky, but if the markets could be assured that there will be no default, I think it’s the better bet. Let the courts decide – even the SCOTUS would probably rule in the president’s favor. Then no one will ever try to pull this crap again (which, believe me, they will otherwise). It’s idiotic that we have a vote on the debt ceiling anyway.

    However, Obama doesn’t want to go down this road. So, it’s either screw everybody with another recession and high interest rates and an extra trillion of public debt, or screw the usual suspects: the poor, the sick, etc. I wonder which one it will be?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    sweatyb is right. Balsz answer when the adminstration is faced with the utterly illogical position of having to run the government executing the lawful and binding demands for expenditures balanced against a lack of adequate funding and a denial of the opportunity to borrow is: Do nothing.

    And then impeach him for it, since his not executing the lawful and binding demands for expenditures.

    That is it, I simply can’t reason with this troll. He is fundamentally anti-Democracy. Go move to China, or better yet Libya. You have the reasoning abilities akin to that of Muammar Gadhafi.

    • Chris Balsz

      There is no Constitutional crisis created when the President can’t get his way through Congress without making a lot of unpleasant concessions. There is no logical inconsistency about a President forced to make unpleasant concessions to the democractically-elected legislature that is solely empowered by the Constitution to provide funding for the government. You have understood that, and that is why you whine about being held “hostage”. And it was popular democracy that created that showdown.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    I also wonder why such people stick around for the abuse, to get so thoroughly savaged and have no logical response, yet still stick at it. This is why I would never waste my time at Redstate.com. There is all illogic all the time, I would never, ever get through to them, at least here 90% of the time you can get things out of the comment section, as in the great Vecchione post where he made an absolutely disgusting smear and was thoroughly raked over the coals by people who proved he was a complete liar and fraud. I will be honest and state I wouldn’t have done that research and might have bought into his lie.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    no balsz, again more shit. The Democrats have never once played that game with the debt ceiling, it is complete bullshit to state that Republicans have to do it now, there is an election next year let them run on a balanced budget amendment and abolishing medicare.

    There is also nowhere in the Constitution that states the President has to concede anything. The only way they can force these cuts through is to override the Presidents veto.
    Funny how you refuse to acknowledge that the President has powers himself and that the Congress can not force the President to do anything except through a veto override. Do they have that power? No. So they are trying to do an endrun around the Constitution.
    The American people can see that Obama has made plenty of concessions, it is the Republicans that are making none.

    Only the Republicans can guarantee there is no default, and that is by voting for an increase in the debt ceiling, which is precisely what every other administration in American history has done.
    If there is a default, it is 100% the Republican congresses fault since you acknowledge that only they have the ultimate power of the purse.

    So you are wrong yet again. You think Congress can force the President to make concessions apart from their Constitutionally enumerated powers. You truly are a fascist.

    You are officially on my ignore list. You have shown such an utter contempt for America I can no longer abide reading your posts.

  • jonnybutter

    There is no Constitutional crisis created when the President can’t get his way through Congress without making a lot of unpleasant concessions.

    Oh speak on, defenders of democracy! HA. I will never fully understand why people like this think that if they commit lies of omission, if they just change language into something technically true, that it changes the situation at hand? Words can be magic, but they aren’t THAT magic.

    One house of Congress is holding hostage, a.) the other house of congress (which was also elected), and b.) the president, who was also elected (and by a large margin, btw). How is it smoothly functioning ‘democracy’ when, if one body doesn’t not get 100% of its demands, the other bodies, and other branch – and THE COUNTRY – get sabotaged? Using the debt ceiling vote as a ransom is a very dangerous innovation, and now that this insurgent, practically Leninist GOP has done it, it will be done again. It should be done away with. What is to stop a future rogue House from threatening to crash the world economy for *any* reason? Let your imagination go with this one. It is preposterous.

    I’d also mention that the cuts the GOP is insisting on are wildly unpopular – I mean, 2 to 1 unpopular, some of them. That’s your cue to remind us that we live in a republic, not a democracy….

  • Raskolnik

    T.S. Eliot maintained that the “greatest treason” was doing the right thing, for the wrong reason. I wonder what he would have thought of doing the wrong thing, for the right reason(s).