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View Diary: Oh yeah, the debt ceiling. Yawn. (92 comments)

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  •  The Constitution says... (6+ / 0-)
    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
    And the 14th amendment says
    Section. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
    So... in summary... the constitution says that congress has the power to tax and spend and that the public debt of the nation is not to be questioned.

    The constitution does not say that Congress has the right to limit debt. It doesn't say it doesn't either but it only specifically says it has the right to spend.

    Therefore in a constitutional clash between congressionally authorized spending and congressionally limited debt... it seems clear to me that congressionally authorized spending wins as it is directly supported by the constitution while limiting debt is not.

    The only caveat I would make to that very simple conclusion is the brief phrase in the 14th amendment... authorized by law... as in...

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law...
    ... in conjunction with a congressional law limiting the debt could be taken to say that debt beyond that limit is not constitutional since it is... Not authorized by law.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:36:51 AM PST

    •  I meant to include... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, liberte, WillR

      Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution of the United States provides as follows:

      All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
      Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 imposes accountability on Congressional spending:
      No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
      Taxing and revenue originate in the House. Spending comes from legislation. Nowhere does it say anything specific about limiting spending that has been authorized.

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:43:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So, the USA can't default — (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew C White, jrooth, liberte, Sylv

      it must continue to service its debt, no matter what Congress does — but if Congress has limited new debt, then that could force a government shutdown.

      Now, given that Congress has passed new spending laws after it passed the debt ceiling law, there's a strong argument that the spending law voided the debt ceiling, by an arcane Constitutional that goes something like, "Money doesn't grow on trees."

      It's significant to note that that bit of the 14th Amendment was there to make sure that those who loaned the USA money for the Civil War would have confidence they'd get paid back.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 11:51:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  14th amendment (0+ / 0-)

      If congress authorizes an expenditure it would seem that would cover the debt incurred. Having another vote on the debt limit is two bites of the apple. In effect a current Congress would be negating valid laws passed previously without need of presidential concurrence. I always thought that the debt limit is quackery and should be ignored by the President by taking the position that the 14th overrides it.

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