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U.S. Constitution
Ryan Grim and Samuel Haas:
Growing increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for a deal that would raise the debt ceiling, Democratic senators are revisiting a solution to the crisis that rests on a simple proposition: The debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional.

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned," reads the 14th Amendment.

"This is an issue that's been raised in some private debate between senators as to whether in fact we can default, or whether that provision of the Constitution can be held up as preventing default," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), an attorney, told The Huffington Post Tuesday. "I don't think, as of a couple weeks ago, when this was first raised, it was seen as a pressing option. But I'll tell you that it's going to get a pretty strong second look as a way of saying, 'Is there some way to save us from ourselves?'"

It's always been clear that at a policy level, the debt ceiling makes absolutely no sense. If Congress wants to restrain debt, then it shouldn't pass the laws that create the debt, but it's completely schizophrenic for Congress to simultaneously pass legislation that limits the federal debt while passing other legislation that would add to the federal debt.

What hasn't been clear is how to resolve the conflict between the statutory debt limit and statutory fiscal policy, and with the debt limit rapidly approaching, it's become clear that it's an issue that must be resolved.

I'm not a lawyer, but given that the plain language of the Fourteenth Amendment is that public debts must be honored, it would seem that if there were conflict between making good on those debts and staying within the debt ceiling, the Constitution would require the government to make good on its debts, trumping the debt ceiling. Given that the financing of a program like Social Security is structured as a public debt, it seems that at a minimum, the debt ceiling doesn't apply to much of the federal budget.

Again, I'm not a Constitutional law expert here, but the key point is that there is an open question about what legal obligations the Obama administration would face if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. Not only has Congress passed legislation that would come into conflict, but the Constitution itself appears to conflict with that legislation as well. Because these are unsettled issues, the White House has a significant degree of latitude in choosing a path forward if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. It certainly shouldn't limit its options by automatically assuming that the debt limit itself is the controlling legal mandate.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As A Practical Matter, How Would It Work? (11+ / 0-)

    Would Obama just ignore congress and issue an EO that in essence instructs the treasury to continue paying the bills?

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher

    by Beetwasher on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:34:21 AM PDT

    •  I think that's how it would work. (9+ / 0-)

      Then those that think the debt ceiling is valid would have to find standing and go through the courts.

      Think of the "War? What War? That's just a no hostilities thing" thing in Libya or the "Torture? What Torture? That's just enhanced interrogation." type of deal.

      Since 2000, the president has been able to basically ignore things he wants to or claims to disagree with. Why not this? This is actually a plausible argument (unlike the other two examples) - if the law can be ignored with implausible arguments, surely this very plausible one will work.

      I agree that it's not particularly courageous to solve a problem on the backs of people who are poor, or people who are powerless, or don't have lobbyists, or don't have clout.

      by teknofyl on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:46:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How DARE a Democratic President (4+ / 0-)

        use his authority and the the clear language of our main social contract to advance progressive goals?!  His proper role is to wield illegal power to give the mega-rich more wealth and power.  Bow down in awe before the holy capital markets!

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

        by Simplify on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:57:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Alternative is to authorize each sale separately. (0+ / 0-)

        The debt limit is a reaction to Congress getting tired of authorizing each bond sale individually. It sets a statutory limit, under which bonds the treasury can sell bonds at rates and times of its choosing.

        At the time, of course, the treasury also had the option of issuing currency on its own, without involving the Federal Reserve system.

        Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

        by chimpy on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 12:00:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  As a practical matter (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sue B, Eric Blair, johnny wurster, chimpy

      It wouldn't.  Sellers require buyers, and the very uncertainty of whether bond indentures would hold up in court would require a sufficiently high interest rate that makes issuing new debt not worth it or impossible, and possibly destroys the value of savings in any dollar denominated asset, given the effect on interest rates.

      The constitutional argument is incredibly weak -- the text of the amendment refers to debts "authorized by Congress," and the supreme court case even slightly on point doesn't really go into the 14th amendment issues.  In any event, the issue here isn't the validity of previously auctioned debts but the consequences of not issuing any more on the value of these notes.  

      The better argument is to say to republicans that any future auctions are authorized based on the spending commitments congress, including the Rs have made.  Not an ironclad argument but it outs the GOP on the defensive whereas here they can offer up perfectly cogent legal arguments in response.  

      In any event, the judgment of the markets matters more than the political or legal ones.  What's it called when you can't auction debt?  A debt ceiling.  It's there whether we like it or not, so there has to be some sort of political solution.  A statutory not constitutional argument works better to facilitate it as it might out shame in their game.  The public can understand hypocrisy and partisanship, and the meaning of the Constitution is not plain.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:56:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But Congress authorizes debt when they (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chris Andersen, chimpy

        pass legislation that creates debt.

        The most violent element in society is ignorance.

        by Mr MadAsHell on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:42:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Constitutional law professor at Univ of Baltimore (5+ / 0-)

        who appeared on Chuck Todd's show this morning disagrees with you about the significance of this. He thinks the Supreme Court case was on point, and that by passing legislation that creates debt, Congress authorizes the debt.

        He also believes the Pres could not be challenged in the courts if he determined that his constitutional obligation is to pay the pre-existing debts, and that the only remedy for those who objected would be impeachment.

        "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

        by NWTerriD on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:07:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chimpy

          And there is NO WAY that the 2/3rds senate majority required for a removal from office impeachment could be realized.

          The political consequences are what comes to the fore.  If Obama is blatant in his exercise of "executive orders" to Treasury, then the consequences would be grave.  If, OTOH, he is left with no clear path to enforce all of the conflicting laws, then his executive oder to ignore the "debt limit" in deference to the budget laws and the laws concerning the management of deficits (as currently defined) will be seen for exactly what they are -- the only way with which the crises can be managed.  The Congress has created conflicting laws that cannot be enforced.  The president is thus free to rule by executive order.

        •  Having read the case, (0+ / 0-)

          it has three paragraphs talking about enumerated powers, one paragraph that says the language in the 14th amendment is "confirmatory" of the enumerated powers principle, and winds up ruling the plaintiffs had suffered no damages.  Furthermore, the issue was that congress by statute tried to change the terms of a bond indenture after it had been issued.  It has therefore nothing to do with the power to issue new debt beyond congressional authorization.  At best, it's non-binding dicta (and we're dealing with one case, over 70 years old); at worst, it's not even controlling.  The court could well come down in favor of the view the debt ceiling is unconstitutional, but it doesn't have to -- and all it takes is the very fact of indeterminancy to create the chaos of a default.  Look up pyrrhic victory.

          Members of Congress would have the power to go to court, so all it would take is one hard-liner.  It would be the same standing argument that lets the group of 10 file suit to declare the Lybia campaign a violation of the WPA.  If the POTUS just tries to pay pre-existing debts, we're still in crisis world.  The inability to raise new debt is what's critical.  

          "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

          by Loge on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:33:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "The Case" is irrelevant. All that matters is the (0+ / 0-)

            politics.  The Congress has failed to create clear and non-conflicting laws.  Executive order must therefore be used to address the issue.  Congress can, at any time, address the issue in proper form by choosing between the "debt limit" and "The budget".  BY abandoning the budget process. the congress is authorizing executive rule.  And THAT is unconstitutional.

      •  I think (0+ / 0-)

        the meaning of the Constitution is plain, and that it's also clear that the debt ceiling is not unconstitutional in the present situation. Here's a blog arguing the point.

    •  What constitutes a debt? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9

      Isn't that the key?  Clearly, it is a promise to pay, covering T-bills and bonds that need to be paid off, usually done by rolling them over and issuing new T-bills and bonds.  The key issue  is whether Treasury can  issue new bonds and bills, and how much interest the markets would charge.  That isn't really answered explicitly by the 14th Amendment.

        Pension obligations must clearly be paid, according to the  14th amendment.  Contractual debts must be paid.  That covers all kinds of things from goods and services purchased, Medicare, probably federal  salaries.  What about Social Security?  Again one question is how much new obligations can be incurred?  There it would seem that if Congress authorizes the spending, and appropriates the money, the bills must be paid, even ifnthat requiresmincurring new debt to do so, because a statute can't prevent the compliance with a comstitutional duty.
      So the debt ceiling can't prevent issuance of debt needed to oay back already contracted fr debt, per the 14th Amendment.

      If Congress doesn't want to incur more debt, it shouldn't authorize the spending.  It is that simpe.  But that, of course, is very hard.

      The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

      by Mimikatz on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:59:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He could announce he is a "unitary executive" (7+ / 0-)

      and watch the Republican heads spin 360 degrees.

      Of course, he doesn't even have to do that. Just say, "The United States will meet its debt obligations. Bite me."

      Keep repeating the lie until the public believes it is truth: TARP worked! TARP worked! TARP worked!

      by Pale Jenova on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:03:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ignore the Pubs, they're CRAZY, IGNORE THEM (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DEMonrat ankle biter


    War is Peace

    Freedom is Slavery

    Ignorance is Strength

    by Churchill on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:34:24 AM PDT

  •  was one of the resident lawyers (7+ / 0-)

    going to do a story on this? Or did I miss it? Every story I've read on dkos at this point on this topic includes the phrase "I'm not a lawyer".

    This seems unlikely to fly to me, but then again, I'm not a lawyer.

  •  Even conservatives say so! (8+ / 0-)
    The Debt Limit Option President Obama Can Use
    By Bruce Bartlett, The Fiscal Times
    April 29, 2011

    And so have bloggers:

    It's Okay, the "Debt Ceiling" is Unconstitutional Anyway
    by Simplify
    May 13, 2011
    Constitutionality, Debt Limit, and Budgets
    by TruthMerchant
    May 25, 2011

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

    by Simplify on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:37:13 AM PDT

    •  That's all they want (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      justmy2, srkp23

      They want Obama to exceed the debt limit himself so they can campaign on that issue.

      They also are trying to get a twofer by getting Medicare cuts to pin on Democrats.

      That's all this is about and they can go shove it.

      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

      by yet another liberal on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:46:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  easy talking point...they write themselves. (5+ / 0-)

        "Democrats spend and even ignore limits passed by Congress.  Democratic spending is out of control."

        The better idea is to force a vote and get Republicans on record for voting for US Default and have them answer to donors and world markets.

        They really should have never started negotiating until the limit was raised.  They should have made it a precondition.

        "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

        by justmy2 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:59:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  GOP controls House (0+ / 0-)

          So anything that is authorized spending has their fingerprints all over it.  They have been authorizing spending for over a decade now.

          The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

          by Mimikatz on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:24:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  in case you haven't noticed (0+ / 0-)

            the past decade is not a real winning issue...especially when Democrats ran the house for half of it...(40%)

            "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

            by justmy2 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 10:28:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  This doesn't make sense (0+ / 0-)

        because, if Obama ignored the debt ceiling, the conservatives and centrists in Congress wouldn't get their austerity cuts.  They're all about austerity cuts — the poor and middle class must pay the rich and powerful.

        But, I think Obama's gonna keep his powder dry, again.  Look at all that powder, just sitting there!

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

        by Simplify on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:01:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How is he going to auction the notes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny wurster

          Go the route of "conscripted savings?" (a classic non-default default, forcing the public to take on bad government debts in exchange for their savings.)

          Perception matters more than reality here.  As long as there's even a possibility the debt ceiling holds up, it puts an upper bound on what amounts of new money it makes sense to raise -- in other words, a debt ceiling congruent to the one by law.  The alternative is equally unthinkable.  But there's no way to avoid the necessity ofna political deal.  Sad as it is to contemplate, cutting a deal with the GOP might be the least bad option, unless there's a magic formula to get the Rs to feel shame.  Implying they are in danger of violating the constitution might fill that role, but we shouldn't necessarily believe our own rhetoric.

          "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

          by Loge on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:17:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  On second thought, it does make sense, (0+ / 0-)

        but the kind of sense I'd rather do without.  "Democrats might have the power to do something good, but then Republicans will say mean things!"  I'm sick of that line of reasoning.  That's what's kept us in wars for empire and all kinds of other awful things.

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

        by Simplify on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:20:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think Obama (0+ / 0-)

          Will raise the debt limit by fiat and tell the Republicans to eat it (with a smile) and the public will side with Obama (the public loves a "decisive" leader anyway).

          And then the shithead Republicans don't get their Medicare cuts either and the whole thing is a FAIL for them.

          Fuck them.  I'm pretty sure that's the game.

          Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

          by yet another liberal on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:42:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Obama would not be the one (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mimikatz

        exceeding the debt limit. Congress exceeded the debt limit by passing the legislation that required the expenditure. The President would bethe grown-up in the house, paying the debts previously incurred by Congress.

        "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

        by NWTerriD on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:11:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This was started by a conservative (0+ / 0-)

      I too am not a lawyer but I can read.

      Bruce Bartlett, who seems to have started this ball rolling, was ID'ed as Republican in the Wikipedia article I read.  However, in the article you mention, he is listed as an independent.  

      Another crux to his argument was that since most of the national debt is owned by foreign interests, it's a national security issue too.  

      Actually, this is a very simple solution to the Debt Ceiling problem.  

      Obama just goes on TV and announce that he has studied the Constitution, the Congressional Statue is in conflict with the 14th amendment and we will keep paying our debt according to the dictates of the Constitution.  Have a nice day, House.

      House can impeach, if they dare.  Trial will fail in the Senate.  Republicans will look like the Mad Dogs they are.  

      The Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue in 1935, using the word 'absolute' authority, they may step into it but Congress may not have standing on this issue to bring it to the Supreme Court.  

      Of Course, Obama needs to wait until the absolute last minute to play this card in order for the Republicans to get as much egg on their faces as possible with their 'my way or the high way' attitude.

      This is an important back door.

      ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

      by NevDem on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:27:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "authorized by law" is the kicker . . . (4+ / 0-)

    and it's where the Congress is acting at cross purposes. It passes legislation to spend money and it passes legislation to borrow it, both of which involve the public debt.

    It would take a creative interpretation by the White House to push these contradictions as a way to end the debt "crisis," which is precisely why it wouldn't ever happen. Obama is nothing if not pragmatic.

  •  The unspoken premise being (8+ / 0-)

    that the Democratic Party leadership wants to get out from under debt ceiling.

    It may not.

    This is not an equivalency comment between the parties' motives - it's just there may be different games being played by the two major parties off of the debt ceiling discourse.... neither of them patient with the 14th amendment being read simply and clearly.

  •  So that's the "other" reason.. (10+ / 0-)

    Repubs are so down on the Fourteenth Amendment these days. I should have known there was more to their objections to it than the typical birther/racist point of view.

    And now it is revealed: many of them knew we had a sort of "secret weapon" to counter their "Cut entitlements or we'll let the government default" hostage strategy. They really cannot do anything about this one, and they know it--though I'll bet many of them didn't think our folks would pull this trigger. Perhaps they should instead ask themselves: if the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn't they?

    "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

    by GainesT1958 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:38:58 AM PDT

  •  I would totally be for abolishing the debt ceiling (4+ / 0-)

    I am tired of the circlejerk debates over it and the possibility of it being used to take us hostage. If there's going to be any limit at all, it should be a ceiling that uses a certain % of GDP as the base, not some fixed number.

  •  I think there are better options (3+ / 0-)

    World markets will see this as in question with the current SCOTUS make up and add the appropriate risk premium?  So this doesn't really solve the problem.  It would create still create the "crisis" they are attempting to avoid.

    The better idea to simply threaten to allow them to vote for a US default and answer to the chamber of commerce and wall street benefactors.  

    No need to get cute, and go onto their turf.  I like the moxy.  But I think there is a better idea out there.

    "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

    by justmy2 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:41:40 AM PDT

    •  NO way the Supremes are going to say gov't can (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9

      Default on it's debts.  Who holds the debt?  Banks, pension funds, foreign governments, banks and pension funds  They aren't going to allow them to be stiffed.  Just like TARP let them get paid off.  It would be an international crisis.  Remember, the pro-business position here is to pay off the debts with new debt, and reduce spending down the road.

      The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

      by Mimikatz on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:07:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the issue isn't what they will do... (0+ / 0-)

        it is what will the markets do in the interim...

        "Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book - you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem." - Senator Obama, 9-16-2008

        by justmy2 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:25:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  All it will take is one bad day on the markets (0+ / 0-)

      The markets, so far, have issued a collective yawn over this whole thing. They are just assuming that something will be worked out because something always has been worked out.

      But if the markets even begin to think that a failure to raise the debt limit is imminent, the markets will react and they will react big and in less than 24 hours.

      THEN you will see a lot of recalcitrant Republicans come back and vote reluctantly for it (just like they did with TARP).

      Now, Obama could use this as leverage against them. But he knows that even a 24 hour run on the bond markets would seriously damage any nascent recovery we are experiencing and Obama is just to responsible to sacrifice the American people in order to make a point. So he will negotiate with the GOP.

  •  Hatch etal proposing a constitutional amendment (4+ / 0-)

    for a balanced budget...aka...'Stop me before I kill again'....(Hatch proud of the fact that 'I have been in congress for 35 years.....blah blah blah').....How about a term limit amendment Orrin?

    •  Wow. For all their tightly wrapped (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli

      Constitutional togas, they're all in a lather to change it, aren't they?  How can they pretend to champion it, urge a return to it, and yet propose changing it every ten minutes?

    •  The Tea Party will get Hatch (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9

      They're already sharpening the knives to gut him in the primary.

      That said, as long as there's a constitutional amendment on CONSECUTIVE terms, I'm all for it. Straight term limit laws deprive the people of proven legislators. Would you want Bernie Sanders term-limited?

      Obama: At least he gives a good speech.

      by Permanent Republican Minority on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:52:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If our leaders want to be an empire (2+ / 0-)

    then act like it.  How many divisions do the markets have, anyway?

  •  Regardless, well all know damn well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherlyle, msdrown

    if McCane was in the WH, the debt ceiling would have been lifted indefinitely back in March.

    "You're messing with my zen thing man....." Kevin Flynn

    by Ex Real Republican on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:43:42 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary Jed (4+ / 0-)

    The debt limit is usually presented as if it somehow was handed down by God, but, in fact, it makes no sense.  My guess is that if Obama were to ignore it, a test of the constitutionality would quickly go to the Supreme Court.  Since the majority of the current Supreme Court are corporate stooges, and since the debt limit is being used as an element of disaster capitalism to further the corporatization of America, I think that the debt limit would be found constitutional.

    I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

    by Eric Blair on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:44:56 AM PDT

    •  Using the Constitution as an 11th hour save (6+ / 0-)

      would still make markets jittery, and make international investors reconsider the role of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Not desirable.

      I think that the threats to invoke the constitution are:

      1) A Democratic negotiating ploy.
      2) A way of reassuring the financial markets.
      3) A potential presidential power grab.

      Not that I disapprove.

      Obama: At least he gives a good speech.

      by Permanent Republican Minority on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:57:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Spot on (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr MadAsHell, johnny wurster

        The kicker is that not only are the constitutional arguments weak, they're irrelevant.  A judicial ruling that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional does not retroactively lower the interest rates investors would demand to counter the uncertainty of such a ruling.

        "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

        by Loge on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:19:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't disagree (1+ / 0-)

        but I think the days of the dollar being the world's reserve currency are numbered in any case.  I think the move away from the dollar is happening and will continue to happen gradually (although there may be a tipping point).  Consider the fact that the Euro is still strong against the dollar in spite of the problems in Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and (potentially) Italy.  I think the Australian dollar is about at 1.06 now.  The Swiss Franc is at about 1.20 I think.  Gold about 1500.  The Chinese have had to keep their currency artificially low because the profit markets at their factories are so small that a slight revaluation would be disastrous for them, but I think they are re-evaluating their economic goals.

        I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

        by Eric Blair on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:59:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That is wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      msdrown, johnny wurster

      Undermining the obligaton to repay debts is fatal to the capitalist system.  Why do you think we had TARP?  The debt is held by banks, pension funds and foreign governments, banks and pension funds.  Those folks aren't going to get stiffed, nor are the people who have insured that debt through credit default swaps.  Too many people get hurt that way.

      The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

      by Mimikatz on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:11:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Be careful what you wish for Gopasaurs...austerity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Blair

    ain't going over well in Greece and you'll catch the blame.

    •  not necessarily (5+ / 0-)
      Gopasaurs...you'll catch the blame.
      Frankly, their entire program is creating new, dreadful situations which they can blame on Obama.  
      Governing?  Pah!  That's for chumps.  Game-playing with the country in order to get rid of Obama?  Now that's a worthy goal.  The public is so gullible, they often buy it.

      Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. --Mark Twain

      by SottoVoce on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:51:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we shall see...the GOP are playing up 'Everybody (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Blair

        is a Tea Partier' meme like crazy. They even believe that shit. So does the press. They won the House on the basis of JOBS and yet they have created this alternate 'debt crisis' world around themselves.

        •  Your claim that the pukes won based on jobs (0+ / 0-)

          is a self serving illusion.  They won based on obstruction and by then calling the Democrats out for lack of progress.  They won by demonizing Obama and ACA.  They NEVER claimed to be the party of job creation.  They claimed to be the party that would "save" the American people from an oppressive government.

  •  There is a giant bluff going on, the Democratic (3+ / 0-)

    forces have to see it.  The 14th amendment side door is interesting, and it would reach the Constitutionally mandated hooey the Tea Party loves so much.  

    But moreover, I wish the President would have the stones to just let the default get here and dare the GOP to do it ... I  am not "hoping" for a default, but there are a ton of non-altruistic reasons for the GOP to avoid the default.  Obama should just walk up to the ledge and tell the GOP "ok, let's jump together".

    But of course - there is never trouble reaching a consensus on spending cuts ...

    •  Obama should get on national television and (6+ / 0-)

      call the Republicans out, especially Eric Cantor, who has invested in shorting mutual funds on Treasury bonds that will enrich him if the US defaults. http://www.salon.com/... .  At the very least, Cantor should be removed from heading the negotiations for Republicans, and preferably be publicly derided for placing bets against the US Treasury....as the chief negotiator.

      Sarah Palin: All pistol and no squint.

      by CanyonWren on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:13:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not a matter of stones (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Into The Woods

      It's a matter of responsibility.

      Even a 24 hour scare with regard to the debt limit would set back any nascent recovery we are experience at least 1-2 years. That means a lot more pain and suffering for the American people, just to make a point.

      That ain't Obama's game.

      •  there is no nascent recovery - there are (0+ / 0-)

        some positive indicators, but there are as many for a double dip.  It is clear that the GOP is lying ... flat lying because the Chamber of Commerce ain't gonna be on board with the debt ceiling being screwed up.  The near 10% unemployment is pain that they have not listened to - so that ship has sailed.  This is not to prove a point, this is to protect real policy interests - the spending does not need to be cut, not now.  Medicare and SS do not need to be gutted - that is a choice.

      •  The "rationality" of the invisible hand is clearly (0+ / 0-)

        on display.  

        Respected representatives from Wall Street have already said that if "fear" starts to spread we won't have to wait for a techincal default.  

        But here's a question I've not seen discussed:

        When all the agency derivatives that we'd been selling China went from golden to crap, before we stepped in and bailed them out, did the mere fact that they might not be paid cause the market to downgrade US credit ratings?

        We'd rather dream the American Dream than fight to live it or to give it to our kids. What a shame. What an awful, awful shame.

        by Into The Woods on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 11:22:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  ... (0+ / 0-)

    If the Supreme Court is any indication, conservatives are good at twisting the Constitution to say what they want it to. I'm sure they'll find a way around that one. And repeal the 13th amendment while they're at it.

    •  There's nothing tricky about this. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, David PA

      The Constitution gives the Congress - and only the Congress - the authority to borrow.  That doesn't need to be twisted, because it's already there in plain sight.

      •  The Trick is (0+ / 0-)

        to Quote:

        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.

        They Gotta pay their debts too! That is where Constitution Trumps Statute.

        ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

        by NevDem on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:54:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Congress Gives Legislative Branch To... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, judyms9

    In this case, the argument is a tight one, but the real problem is that this is the second major function that Congress would effectively wish away because of political realities. The first was war making authority.  Only Congress may make wars, but voting against war became toxic, so, to save themselves from responsibility, they wouldn't join suit against Panama, against Gulf I, against Kosovo, etc. This effectively unconstitutionally gave up a right.

    Because it will be politically difficult, Congress would now again abolish a duty.  Whether we agree with the argument in play or not, the motive stinks, and the result stinks: they're trying to have no duties, because duties are hard.

    Love bears all, but lust bares it all.

    by The Geogre on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:49:07 AM PDT

    •  For this congress duties are not hard; they are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre

      impossible so it's on to gamesmanship.  Their approval rating, low as it is, should be in negative territory.

      •  I absolutely agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        judyms9

        I wonder if it should be a rule that you lose your office if you have a certain percentage of votes you don't take?

        Also, if you vote against something, you really should have to say, at the same time, what you favor.

        When Jim DeMint said that the GOP policy should be to vote "no" on everything so that a popular president couldn't have any accomplishments to campaign on, that that was the only way, and that got out, the response by the big media was, "Oh, he's a fringe voice." and "Where did people get this tape?" and "No one would put party ahead of the common good like that. The senate is deliberative."

        Uh-huh.

        Love bears all, but lust bares it all.

        by The Geogre on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:28:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Getting the queasy sensation that the debt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9

    ceiling issue will result in terrible policy and unnecessary concessions.

    I really wish Americans would simply take the time to learn what the two parties actually support.

    While Dems have let me down time and time again, and Dems are weak-kneed capitulators, cant our fellow citizens appreciate what the goopers have become?

    Gooper policy plans alter the fundamental fabic of America. Meanwhile, our population fiddles while the kindling is lit.

  •  I think ignoring the debt limit (5+ / 0-)

    is a brilliant idea.  The Dems have a defensible position that the 14th Amendment constrained Congress from passing laws that would inhibit the ability of the US government to pay its accumulated debt obligations.  In other words, it was intended to take politics out of the business of paying creditors.

     

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:49:46 AM PDT

    •  Irrelevant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      The debt limit matters not because it might hold up in court but because if enough borrowers think it might, it would be prohibitively costly to try to raise money in excess of it.  So the choice is between government not honoring it's spending commitments or wreaking havoc on interest rates.  Legal arguments aside, there's no way to wish the problem away.

      Now I happen to think the Constitutional argument advanced here doesn't fly (see the part about debts authorized by congress) but if it works politically, so be it.  I favor the subsidiary argument that the GOP congress in fact authorized future borrowing notwithstanding the debt ceiling by appropriating new spending.  It's not a legal slam dunk, but it has a better chance of backing the Rs into a corner.

        But even that shouldn't matter because the consequences of even getting close to default should be enough to raise the limit.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:05:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think what most creditors want to know (0+ / 0-)

        is whether their regular payments will continue or not.  If Geithner reassures them of that and indicates that this current politcal conflict is a short-term issue that will be fought out in the courts then it won't matter much to them.

        The argument that Congress implicitly authorized new borrowing because of their budget resolutions/new spending/ or perhaps as the Presidet said today (past spending...because we are in fact borrowing money to pay debts incurred in prior years) also works.  I think one needs to go in with several plausible arguments in order to tie the GOPs hands.

        Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

        by khyber900 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 12:26:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You don't need to be (4+ / 0-)

    You don't need to be a Constitutional Scholar to have an opinion on what the constitution means.  At least, that never stopped most people.  And certainly not the Republicans: either in the 1800s with their desire to destroy slavery, or in the late 20th century with their belief that the 2nd A engenders a personal right to bear arms.

    Or with the New Deal and the Democrats.

    In short, politically, this is a winner.

    And that is enough to ulitimately change what the Big Boys and Girls on SCOTUS will decide...

  •  I always wonder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrississippi, David PA

    when lawmakers call the Social Security IOUs  "worthless" if they aren't violating the 14th Amendment.

    I agree with this guy

    •  It's hard to imagine that the 14th amendment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, David PA

      overturned the 1st amendment.  

    •  Phoebe - if the SocSec Trust Fund (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA

      had no IOUs from the Treasury how would it be different than what is in place now, not from a balance sheet perspective, but from a cash flow perspective? SocSec has revenue from the withholding in our paychecks, and our employers matching funds. If it has any shortfall (which started in 2010) it receives what it needs from the general fund by cashing in some of its IOUs. But if it didn't have any IOUs it would still receive what it needed from the general fund. So while the IOUs are valid obligations, in practice it really doesn't matter because its shortfall is funded by the same source as all other federal government programs.  Some critics use the term "worthless", but a more accurate view might be intragovernment debt.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:41:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  issuing new debt vs. paying old debt (5+ / 0-)

    The 14th Amendment could be interpreted as only referring to debt that the government already owes: i.e. we commit ourselves to paying it no matter what.  We can pay off or at least service existing debt with or without a debt ceiling, but then the idea of a debt ceiling is to create a procedural hurdle to adding to the debt.

    In this view, failure to pass the debt ceiling constitutionally restricts the US government to the equivalent of pay-go: we can only spend the money we collect in tax revenue.  However, so long as we continue to service our existing debt - which we can do from revenues alone - there's no danger of default.  The real problem is an effective government shutdown from lack of cash, where every agency and program that can't be covered with tax revenue alone is on the chopping block unless and until the debt ceiling is raised, and Congress allows the Executive Branch to borrow again to pay its bills.

    •  The question is this; when the US government--- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA

      with the capacity to print and circulate its own money---decides to spend money, does it as well need to decide to borrow money? As long as it does one or the other, its debts seem covered by the constitution.

      IMHO, this is where the constitutional question leads.

      •  Congress does all those things, not the Executive. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster

        It is the legislative branch of government that holds the power to print, spend and borrow money.  All three powers are mentioned in Article I, section 8 of the Constitution.

        Congress has established administrative agencies through which to print and funnel/spend money with a certain amount of discretion authorized by Congress.  The fact that a debt ceiling exists by legislative act suggests that Congress has not authorized the executive to exceed that ceiling.  The 14th Amendment only protects debts that are authorized.

      •  buying and selling Treasuries is the normal way (0+ / 0-)

        When people talk about "printing money", I don't think they're referring to the US Mint literally making new dollar bills.  That never ends well, so it's not surprising that the government would prefer to avoid that.  Instead it's the Treasury department selling more Treasury bills than are necessary to cover the gap between government revenue and government expenses.  

        The US government decides to raise real money by selling a piece of paper that entitles the buyer to their money back plus interest on a certain date.  Demand for Treasuries is consistently stable if not high, because people believe that the US economy is strong enough to generate large amounts of real money that the government can tax in order to pay back the owners of its debt.

        China owns billions of dollars worth of Treasuries, so does Japan, and collectively so do many countries and private entities around the world.  So does the Social Security fund, BTW; hence the claim that there's no real money in it.  In fact, I've seen figures that argue that most US government debt is owed to American citizens.  What gets weird is when the Federal Reserve starts buying Treasuries: one government agency selling debt to another quasi-government agency.  But where does the real money come from that the Fed - I assume - uses to buy those Treasury bills?

        •  That money is CREATED by the Fed (0+ / 0-)

          The money used to buy $600B worth of treasury debt in QE2 was created from thin air.  This raises the question as what happens when these instruments mature.  Is the "Good Fairy" to be compensated for the maturing instruments, or is the money supply to be increased a second time, or is the FED going to divide the money among the Fed Banks and their shareholders?

    •  I think that's the difference, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, David PA

      The only SCOTUS case even slightly on point, Perry v. United States, related to a resolution that denied the legitimacy of a specific bond that was already issued.

      The 14th Amendment only assures the validity of debts "authorized by law."  If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, that means that the executive must divert funds from other purposes in order to keep the debt from exceeding the ceiling (i.e., the government will basically shut down).

      After the GWB administration's disregard for the separation of powers, the notion that the executive can choose by itself to incur more debt is troublesome.

    •  There's another problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      In that the world markets assume that treasuries will be readily available, which isn't so if the US stops auctioning them.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:20:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  might be betting on Treasury appreciation (0+ / 0-)

        If people want to own Treasuries, and the US government isn't selling any more of them, the teabaggers might well be betting on a bidding war over a now limited number of.  Econ 101, but then these are people who think that scarcity is the surest way to keep the value of an asset stable: think goldbugs.

        The surest way to destroy the value of US Treasuries is for all the people who own them already to decide they don't want them anymore, but no-one else wants them either for the same reasons.  The way this might happen anyway is due to the fact that markets aren't driven by numbers alone, and people might start thinking that the US government can't or won't pay out on existing Treasuries - if everyone thinks you're defaulting, who's to say you're not? - but logically this becomes far less likely if the number of claims on the US government's future income, itself based on the US's future economic output, are now fixed.

    •  The question I want to ask (0+ / 0-)

      of all the teapartiers who say, "Well, we'll just pay our debts and then just cut government expenditures by 30%" is this: Who is going to decide where those cuts will be? If Congress doesn't raise the debt limit, the Treasury has to make the decision of which bills to pay. And the Treasury works for Obama.

      In other words, if the debt limit isn't raised, it will be up to Obama to decide which parts of the budget should be cut to make up the difference.

      Do they really want to give Obama that authority?

      •  mandatory vs. discretionary spending, not O per se (0+ / 0-)

        SS payments and Medicare are mandatory spending: i.e. the government has standing orders to pay for these things pretty much regardless of the state of the government's finances.  However, the wars for example are discretionary spending: i.e. they need to be re-funded on a regular basis.

        Congress can cut discretionary spending simply by doing nothing, but cutting mandatory spending requires the passage of a new bill with all the attendant negotiations.

  •  Eric Cantor invested in shorts of Treasury bonds (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lostinamerica, arpear, judyms9

    so stands to make a lot of money if the US defaults. Salon. It makes total sense that Cantor and his cronies are doing everything possible to not extend the debt ceiling; he'll become even richer than he already is if we begin to default on our loans.

    I wrote a diary in the wee hours last night on this. http://www.dailykos.com/... Ignore the threadjack.

    Sarah Palin: All pistol and no squint.

    by CanyonWren on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:09:28 AM PDT

    •  Cantor should be roundly castigated by his (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      msdrown, CanyonWren

      own party for being the unpatriotic opportunist punk he is, but the rethugs have no conscience.  We should prepare to have our national throat slit in our sleep.  

    •  Net, he's long the US. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren, VClib

      If the US defaults, his portfolio gets destroyed.  Not only is he net long US debt (w/ his TIPS portfolio), but virtually all of the rest of his portfolio relies on the US economy being strong.

      •  How so? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster

        I'm no short/long expert, so would appreciate your informed take on this.

        Sarah Palin: All pistol and no squint.

        by CanyonWren on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:13:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In addition to the Proshares position, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, CanyonWren

          he owns at least one $50k - 100k position in a TIPS fund.  TIPS are Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, eg US debt (where interest payments are pegged to inflation).  So he's $15k short treasuries and $100k long treasuries, for a net $85k long position (assuming max values).

          On top of that, he's got a substantial US equity position in his portfolio.  And if the US defaults, all those stocks go down the toilet.  

    •  Didn't the US Govt Just Prosecute Some WS Firms (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren

      for failing to disclose such a conflict of interest?  

      He's betting against the team.  

      If he was in professional baseball, and he got caught, would they still allow him to play the game he'd bet on?  

      We'd rather dream the American Dream than fight to live it or to give it to our kids. What a shame. What an awful, awful shame.

      by Into The Woods on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 11:26:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a great question (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sure it's "legal" to bet against the US, but it warrants an honorable mention in unethical and creepy.  The conflict of interest, however, is what has teeth and could get Cantor removed from negotiations.  Remember when the Bush administration (ie, "the Pentagon") set up the futures market...wait for it...for terrorism on US soil? Yeah. Legal. Here is an argument for it: http://hanson.gmu.edu/...

        Sarah Palin: All pistol and no squint.

        by CanyonWren on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 12:27:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  3...2...1... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrississippi

    Can't wait to see the Republican response to THIS.

    •  I wish there were a lot more of these left-field (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal, srkp23, msdrown

      plays by Democrats . . . GOPers are so deer-in-headlights when they're caught in a constitutional argument, because they're never challenged by them. They trust the Federalist Society to make constitutional policy for them, the MSM dutifully reports those positions like they've come down from Moses, and the Democrats ignore it because it seems so absurd. And then are surprised to find out that 95% of 'Murkins believe that Jesus wrote a couple of amendments.

  •  if repubs refuse to raise the debt ceiling AND (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arpear

    the constitution clearly says America is obligated to pay its debts no matter WHAT the repubs say..., can we SELL TEXAS to get the money we need to stay solvent?

    "You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and a humorist to stay one" - Will Rogers

    by KnotIookin on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:15:38 AM PDT

  •  Let us stop being held hostage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods

    to a phantom.  There is enough real hostage-taking to go around as it is.

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

    by Simplify on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:24:51 AM PDT

  •  One good thing about holding the debt ceiling.... (0+ / 0-)

    NO MORE WARS.

  •  The Only Way to Find Out (0+ / 0-)

    Is to have the debt ceiling invoked and have an aggrieved party sue the federal gov't for not honoring it's debt obligations.
    I lean towards the debt ceiling not being constitutional as the financial responsibility clause is pretty specific.
    But, I am not a lawyer so what do I know.

    Could be fun to watch the repubs walk the plank on this if they're willing to go to the limit.

  •  Is printing money the equivalent of issuing debt? (0+ / 0-)

    And what prevents the Chief executive from printing money?

    Don't squander your youth. You never can buy it back.

    by fredlonsdale on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:41:49 AM PDT

    •  Isn't printing money (0+ / 0-)

      A euphemism for issuing debt?

      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

      by yet another liberal on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:50:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David PA

        Money is sorta like a form of debt, but as a legal matter it's a different thing.

        •  Fiat money is an asset of the public and an (0+ / 0-)

          obligation of the government that issues it (prints it).  The government is obligated to credit the money holder with the discharge of the money holder's tax and other obligations as the money id reclaimed by the government.  In the real world, government spends money into existence to provide whatever the public's representatives decide to provide on behalf of their constituents.  Taxes are the payment for the loan (the created money).  If a government refuses to tax, then the money should lose its value.

  •  I've been bringing up this point for weeks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods

    The GOP is playing the mad man strategy with the debt ceiling talks: "Do what we want or we will blow it all up!"

    What if the Democrats were the same: "Come back to the table with reasonable demands, or we will just act like we have the approval to raise the money needed to keep the government running."

    Then dare the GOP to fight this.

  •  How many of you have called your (0+ / 0-)

    Representatives, Senators and the White House to URGE them NOT to give into austerity plans and RAISE TAXES?  How many of you have called and asked them to support Senator Sanders letter to the President?  How many of you have signed Senator Sander's petition?

    Look, I have called and emailed and written til I am blue in the face, but I will NOT just sit here and blog.  I called each of my representatives and the White House this morning and urged them to raise taxes and support Senator Sander's proposal.

    I have Mike Coffman as a rep.  But I did it anyway.

    Come on people . . .  make some noise

    •  Why do you think that "your" representatives (0+ / 0-)

      have the authority to "raise taxes"???? HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM???  They cannot "raise taxes" unless they can get the votes to do so in the Republican House.  So all of your calls and letters and whining isn't worth spit. The president of the United States, in his capacity of "commander in chief" which extends to all things necessary to preserve the union, must use an executive order to instruct the Treasury to conduct debt sales as usual in spite of the "debt limit" simply because the cessation of the sales will have harmed the nation.  This IS a national emergency because the Congress has failed to act responsibly; failed  to create clear and non-contradictory laws.  The budget agreement is the LATEST law ans it trumps the previous "debt limit" law and or the law that says the Treasury MUST issue debt instruments as opposed to "greenbacks".

      If the moronic Republicans are made aware of this impending action, THEY WILL DEAL, or they will DIE.  It is ALL on Obama,

  •  Obama will do everything in his power... (0+ / 0-)

    ...to help the Republican'ts get their massive, painful cuts across the finish line, while enabling the Republican'ts to stick him with the blame for the results...

  •  I just checked the 14th Amendment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods

    The language of section 4 IS generic, not just addressing debt incurred from the Civil War. It does reject debt that a state incurred by seceding.
    I do not know of any case law on this section. I suspect it has not been litigated, at least not in the context we are considering.

    btw I wonder how much public pressure Senate Democrats are really getting to raise the debt limit. My Senators are Cornyn and Hutchison and they are no-go, but I called them anyway and said I opposed cuts in Medicare or Social Security. I got answering machines. They seem to be cutting staff that would be answering constituents' phone calls.

  •  What can a state do (0+ / 0-)

    when its congresscritters violate the US Constitution? Is there an impeachment procedure? There are a lot of red congresspeople in blue states.

  •  Lesser of Two Evils (0+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that if Congress fails to pass a debt ceiling increase by August 2 (and I don't think they should without some shared sacrifice in the form of ending big oil subsidies and tax breaks for millionaires), then it would seem President Obama would be left with only two options:

    1. Allow the Nation to default on its debts and let all forms of chaos insue; or

    2. Claim the 14th amendment requires him to pay those debts regardless of the debt limit, and continue to pay our debts preventing fiscal chaos.

    Seems, #2 is the obvious lesser of two evils.

    Also, who would challenge him in the Courts?  Not corporate Republicans since they would be fighting against their masters.  Maybe the Tea Party folk.  But even if they do make a court challenge, it will take years to get to the Supremes, and by then it would likely be irrelelvant.

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 12:13:07 PM PDT

    •  The PROPER reaction to Executive Order is (0+ / 0-)

                                             IMPEACHMENT

      And that is EXACTLY what the morons in the House would do.  However,.....

      Even with a right winged Supreme Court justice as "master of ceremonies" in the ensuing Senate trial, it would not be possible to attain a 23'rds majority necessary to the removal of the president OR THE COUNTERMAND OF HIS ORDER.

      The Congress will have been FORCED to make a deal that is acceptable to the president.  End of hunt.

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