In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis -- without Congressional approval, if necessary.The letter, which was signed by Harry Reid, Patty Murray, Chuck Schumer, and Dick Durbin, is being reported as an endorsement of raising the debt limit unilaterally, but that's not entirely accurate. Unilaterally raising the debt limit would certainly be one way of sidestepping the debt limit crisis, but there are other options, including the platinum coin and issuing the equivalent of IOUs. You can make legal arguments on behalf of all the options, but the key point of the Senate letter is that if Republicans refuse to act, Senate Democrats will support the president doing everything in his power to avoid a crisis.
Republicans, of course, believe the Senate Democratic letter is an outrage, but despite their rhetoric, over here in the real world, the letter is nothing but common sense. In fact, it's so obvious that it's common sense that even though we have already reached the debt limit, nobody complained when the president's treasury secretary informed Congress he was taking extraordinary measures to avoid default. Why hasn't anybody complained? Simple: because it's the administration's job to pursue every lawful option available to avoid turning the situation into a crisis.
It's worth repeating this: we've already reached the debt limit, the administration is already taking extraordinary measures, and nobody is screaming about it. President Obama has not become Hitler and he hasn't become Stalin. For crying out loud, he hasn't even become FDR.
Yes, he's using the power of the executive branch to mitigate the damage caused by our completely inept and hopelessly dysfunctional Congress, but this isn't what dictatorship looks like: this is what a president with a tea party Republican House looks like. If Congress continues to drag its feet, the president is going to have to take increasingly aggressive steps to avoid an economic clusterfuck of biblical proportions. Extraordinary measures will give way to superextraordinary measures. But as long as it is legal, it's exactly what the president should and must do. And only a teapartier could disagree with that.