You all may be forgetting that the scenario that President Obama is going through—the debt ceiling hostage threats and whatnot—is "been there done that" territory for Bill Clinton.
Here's what Bill Clinton said recently:
Former President Bill Clinton says that he would invoke the so-called constitutional option to raise the nation’s debt ceiling “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me” in order to prevent a default, should Congress and the President fail to achieve agreement before the August 2 deadline.
Sharply criticizing Congressional Republicans in an exclusive Monday evening interview with The National Memo, Clinton said, “I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy.”
"Force the courts to stop me!" That's the kind of talk I like to hear from a Democrat!
While I like the Big Dog's political moxie (and who doesn't?!) ultimately it is Congress that will have to issue debt. The Big Dog is incorrect in thinking that it wouldn't have consequences. Using the 14th would still have the effect of raising interests pretty damn quick. Treasuries would remain super-investment grade, for sure. But risk certainly has to go up if presidents can raise debt at whim without the power of the purse (Congress) to back it up. See, the only reason U.S. Treasuries are as good as gold is because of the understood and almost unlimited power of Congress to tax. That is what backs up the promise to pay implicit in the bond.
But anybody who thinks Bill Clinton doesn't know a thing or two about debt ceiling negotiations needs to look back. John Boehner isn't the first person to consider holding the debt ceiling hostage as a negotiating tool. Newt Gingrich was the original.
In April of 1995, with the Ceiling at $4.9 trillion – where it had been since 1993 – Newt Gingrich appeared on This Week With David Brinkley and stated his willingness to force the government into default.
Both sides held firm. Simultaneously, Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress, folded the debt ceiling increase in their Balanced Budget Bill. The goal was to blame President Clinton if there was a default on the debt. Republicans passed their bill with deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and included plenty of tax cuts for the rich. Here was Clinton's response:
"This budget is dead on arrival when it comes to the White House, and, if the price of any deal are cuts like these, my message is no deal."
-- President Bill Clinton
It was plenty risky for Clinton too. He suffered in the polls for his unwillingness to compromise and took his share of the blame. The government was shut down, after all, and he was in charge. It was especially touch and go when he announced in February of 1996 that Social Security checks weren't going out in March.
But Clinton held firm, eventually conceding a paltry amount of budget and tax cuts, perfectly palatable due to the growing economy he shepherded into fruition with his big 1993 tax increase on the rich. In the end, Republicans not only knuckled under and reopened the government, they also, on March 29, 1996, gave him a clean bill increasing the debt ceiling. During an election year!
Right after the crisis ended, Bill Clinton recorded some of highest approval ratings he ever had. The public rewarded him for his tough willingness to fight back, his staunch defense of Medicare and his prudent stewardship of the economy. As we all know, he went on to reelection with ease.
So while he may not be on the money on the 14th Amendment business, I don't think anybody right now knows more than Bill Clinton on how to beat the GOP hostage game. Been there, done that.