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In dealing with the upcoming debt limit crisis, President Obama will approach it in a fundamentally different way than he did back in 2011. But for a variety of very good reasons he will make it a straight up political face-off between the President on behalf of the people of the United States against a minority of Republicans in Congress who have recklessly threatened to put the country in default.

As he said in his press conference today "There are no magic tricks here, there are no loopholes." This reiterates what the President, through the Treasury, stated on Friday that he will not use the platinum coin option. That statement echoed his decision in 2011 that he would not use the 14th Amendment option. By these determination he has made clear will not circumvent the debt limit law by the use of one of several tactics that, while arguably legal, would be viewed by some as gimmicks, or that could develop into a significant Constitutional crisis. Moreover, he understands that the use of any of those options would merely delay the final day of reckoning. The debt limit must be increased and it is Congress' responsibility to do so.

To understand those issues we must first look at the debt limit law itself. There is a provision in the United States Code that limits the amount of money the United States can owe at any one time, and thus the amount it can borrow. It reads

31 USC 3101(b) The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter and the face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) may not be more than $14,294,000,000,000, outstanding at one time, . . . .
That limit is modified by the provision of law enacted as part of the 2011 debt limit confrontation which gives the President the authority through successive acts to further raise the debt limit to $16.394 Trillion.

The Treasury reached that $16 Trillion limit at the end of 2012. Here is a comprehensive Congressional Research Service Report report explaining the history and operations of the debt limit. Since the end of the year, Treasury has used some "extraordinary" powers, such as canceling Civil Service Retirement Fund obligations, to keep paying the bills.

There have been three options under discussion. It has been argued the President could use the authority to mint a platinum coin in a trillion dollar denomination and use those funds to continue to pay the Treasury's bills. The second alternative was to use his authority to issue scrip that would be used to pay the debts of United States until the debt limit that could be raised and real dollars borrowed. The third option was for the President to simply say that he has the authority under the 14th Amendment, or some other constitution provision, to issue debt notwithstanding the fact that the issuance would exceed the amount of the debt limit law.

The President did not choose the first two options because, whether or not one thinks he has the legal authority to issue a platinum coin or issue scrip, the President knew that both internationally and domestically taking either of those actions would be viewed as a gimmick, a magic trick. More importantly, either of those actions would merely be kicking the can down the road. They would be giving the Congress an excuse to not raise the debt limit because the President would have continued to keep the country operating and the Republicans would have been let lose to fight the President in the courts and through impeachment hearings.

The third option was for the President to assert that the 14th Amendment gives him the authority, if not a requirement, to avoid default notwithstanding the debt limit. But this assertion would create a significant Constitutional crisis, a crisis between the President and the Congress as well as between the President and the Supreme Court.

Asserting this position is not the same as a conflict between two statutes, where the President interprets one statute as overriding another. Many people have suggested this possibility by arguing that the Congress has passed Appropriations Acts and that they require the President to spend the money appropriated, a requirement which conflicts with the debt limit law. That argument has little merit. There is no statute that says money that is appropriated must be spent if there is no money available. In fact, if you look at every Appropriations Act the lead off language is ,

"That the following sums are appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, . . . . . "
"Any money in the Treasury." Very soon if  Treasury cannot borrow money and put it in the Treasury, there will only be two dollars in the Treasury for every three dollars of bills coming due. Appropriations acts simply do not authorize let alone require the expenditure of funds that the Treasury does not have. There is no conflict between Appropriations Laws and the Debt Limit law. One tells Treasury how to spend money in the Treasury, the other limits how much can be borrowed to put money in the Treasury. This question is totally different than the question of whether the President can refuse to spend appropriated funds when such funds are available, which the Supreme Court has ruled to be unconstitutional.

Simply put we are talking about the President having the power to unilaterally decide whether he will comply with laws that are duly enacted by Congress and signed by the President. Except for Nixon no President has done that, in this way, since Lincoln suspended the Habeas Corpus provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The action was challenged by a prisoner but Lincoln ignored a court decision which ruled the action Unconstitutional. Eventually, however, Congress essentially ratified his action.

It is important to point out that this is not the same as the President's decision to not defend the Constitutionality of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. In the case of DOMA, the Constitutionality of the law had been challenged in court. The President decided that the law was no longer Constitutionally defensible and argued that position in court. However, he also announced that he would continue to enforce DOMA until the courts struck it down.

Also, this is not like the President's decision regarding Libya and the War Powers Act. While all Presidents have questioned the Constitutionality of the War Powers Act, all have generally complied with it. In the case of Libya, the President argued that he has consulted with Congress and in any event the Act doesn't apply because we aren't involved in hostilities. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the President's position he is clearly not taking the position that he even though the Act applies he is violating it based on his determination of its Constitutionality.

In the case of the debt limit the President would be directing the Treasury to ignore a law that clearly applied to its actions. He would be doing so even though the law has not been challenged let alone held to be Unconstitutional by a court.

Virtually all legal scholars believe that the President has a duty to enforce the law regardless of what he thinks about it because all laws that are duly enacted are presumptively Constitutional. This is a basic tenet of our legal system that was referred to in the 6th Circuit Decision upholding the Affordable Care Act

The minimum coverage provision, like all congressional enactments, is entitled to a “presumption of constitutionality,” and will be invalidated only upon a “plain showing that Congress has exceeded its constitutional bounds.” . . . The presumption that the minimum coverage provision is valid is “not a mere polite gesture. It is a deference due to deliberate judgment by constitutional majorities of the two Houses of Congress that an Act is within their delegated power . . .(citations omitted).
No Court has held that the President has the power to issue a binding ruling that any law, such as the debt limit, is Unconstitutional. Rather the courts have held that such power resides in the Supreme Court. Since the 1803 case of Marbury v Madison it has been accepted that only the Court can declare a law Unconstitutional. Unless that happens or until it is repealed, the debt limit is the law of the land.

Having rejected all other options, the President has decided to engage in a direct challenge to the Congress. He is not going to play games or kick the can down the road. And he certainly isn't going to give them ammunition to argue that he has exceeded his Presidential authority, which would create a sideshow of its own involving court cases and Congressional hearings. This is actually the boldest step he could take it is also the step most likely to succeed because it is a pure political challenge involving the power of a President who is just been reelected against a very unpopular Congress. As such it is by far the most likely to succeed.

Also published at September 17, 1787

Originally posted to September 17, 1787 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Presidential hardball that (246+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jon Says, Quicklund, vcmvo2, some other george, Drobin, OIL GUY, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Eric Nelson, Kathy S, chantedor, offgrid, paradox, CwV, Thinking Fella, mmacdDE, el dorado gal, USHomeopath, maybeeso in michigan, Byron from Denver, Christy1947, Fonsia, Gowrie Gal, DeminNewJ, leftreborn, Mayfly, Deep Texan, jrooth, stagemom, Mindful Nature, zapus, boatjones, sarvanan17, stevenaxelrod, MKinTN, SoCalSal, trillian, ColoTim, skod, Russ Jarmusch, Melanie in IA, LEP, Crabby Abbey, Time Waits for no Woman, uciguy30, old wobbly, Simplify, fiercefilms, Inventor, confitesprit, Chaddiwicker, Beetwasher, anodnhajo, OLinda, CS11, Horsefeathers, rogerdaddy, glorificus, cherish0708, dle2GA, RandomNonviolence, aitchdee, v2aggie2, Mr MadAsHell, nsfbr, OldSoldier99, Don Enrique, VTCC73, TomP, Ray Pensador, ratcityreprobate, also mom of 5, Michael James, Loudoun County Dem, Dartagnan, Nalepoc, pragmaticidealist, profh, Quantumlogic, johanus, Glen The Plumber, elginblt, solliges, greycat, brione, rogeopa, elwior, sharman, furi kuri, Steve15, Sylv, cassandracarolina, karmsy, BLou Islander, monkeybrainpolitics, Jim P, Emerson, MazeDancer, NormAl1792, basquebob, Hopeful Monster, lcrp, puakev, greenotron, Railfan, Dhavo, Sophie Amrain, reflectionsv37, Onomastic, Matt Z, Argyrios, Rogneid, majcmb1, Byblis, whenwego, begone, sgrAstar, Involuntary Exile, itskevin, dochackenbush, toom, missLotus, not4morewars, FG, global citizen, hotdamn, Serendipity, onionjim, dmhlt 66, sanglug, Simian, chrississippi, glattonfolly, BayAreaKen, smileycreek, waltinpa, flitedocnm, Diogenes2008, Jim R, Laurence Lewis, citizen dan, SnyperKitty, Eric Twocents, JanL, Tim DeLaney, sviscusi, DSC on the Plateau, kalmoth, mjshep, hester, citisven, Laughing Vergil, teresab, AoT, deepeco, PLS, rapala, salamanderempress, Showman, Andrew C White, cpresley, DontTaseMeBro, maxcat06, semiot, pat bunny, Dobber, arizonablue, kerflooey, checkerspot, myeye, defluxion10, Mimikatz, leonard145b, randallt, lcs, Curt Matlock, MichaelNY, rlk, FiredUpInCA, rlochow, tapestry, luckydog, pundit, Aaa T Tudeattack, janislav, illegal smile, Mr Raymond Luxury Yacht, sja, nickrud, Bluesee, anonevent, glitterlust, DixieDishrag, FistJab, yoduuuh do or do not, ypsiCPA, countwebb, tofumagoo, jcrit, shigeru, ModerateJosh, BachFan, Fury, nomandates, Yamara, DianeNYS, Wino, dragonlady, rja, slothlax, kaliope, tikkun, RUNDOWN, GeorgeXVIII, rachelmap, fhcec, linkage, yuriwho, NBBooks, Robynhood too, helpImdrowning, Jeff Y, Glinda, DRo, bontemps2012, Creosote, kurious, tobendaro, petesmom, grrr, casey570, PeterHug, Paradigm Change, kharma, Sun Tzu, a2nite, mbh1023, Skennet Boch, rlb, sfbob, Dont Get MAD, pamelabrown, Paulie200, antooo, La Gitane, gmats, 3goldens

    avoids creating distracting issues or delaying the inevitable.

    Further, affiant sayeth not.

    by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:26:15 AM PST

    •  Thanks for the perspective. (20+ / 0-)

      The President looked like he really meant it in the Press Conference today: that he wasn't going to let the Republicans get safety-net cuts in exchange for a debt ceiling agreement. This might actually be a line-in-the-sand.

      That said, the Trillion Dollar Coin's real advantage is it doesn't create more debt. And upsetting the Bankers, who'd lose revenue if we stopped borrowing from them, is just something "serious" people in DC don't do.

      Currently 1/4 of the deficit is debt-service. We are selling interest-bearing Bonds to pay off interest.

      So rejecting that option is not about kicking the can much further down the road. It would take a few years of not borrowing alone to get rid of the deficits. Combine that with ending the Permanent War for National Suicide, which has us with troops in 120 countries to nail a few thousand guys on scooters and donkeys... and the deficit could be history in 4 or 5 years.

      Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

      by Jim P on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:12:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  there won't be a fight (18+ / 0-)

    over the debt ceiling, at least not at the moment. Boehner had already signaled that the Republicans would seek to leverage the sequestered cuts rather than regularly threaten to blow up the economy. This was a bipartisan agreement, agreed upon after the "fiscal cliff" deal, to lower the temperature a few degrees.

    The problem was that if the GOP had been called upon to follow through on their threats to default, they would have been exposed as the paper tigers they are. They never would have done it, because their wealthy backers wouldn't have allowed global economic collapse.

    Now we know for sure that it was always a bluff, and Obama knew it was always a bluff. He just used the threat of collapse to get the sequestered cuts, which are a much better weapon to use to force the Dems to agree to cutting SS and Medicare.

    For a default would have been disastrous for both parties. It wasn't a very good weapon, like threatening to detonate a nuke in a crowded room.

    But the sequestered cuts are much more odious to the Democrats than the Republicans--they can be targeted more carefully. Hence the Republicans' threats to inflict the cuts will be much more credible than their threats to blow up the economy. The Dems will squirm, and eventually they'll cough up and agree to chopping SS/Medicare, at Obama's insistence.

    Defense spending will be protected, have no fear of that. The Beltway will scream that cutting military spending will leave us helpless, the WH will concede, and there will be some "compromise" reached that totally defangs the only threat the sequester poses to the Republicans: cuts to defense. Then the Republicans will happily inflict the sequester on the Dems, because they love spending cuts.

    This will probably be agreed upon when Congress meets in March to deal with the debt ceiling: removing defense cuts from the sequester in exchange for temporarily taking the debt ceiling off the table. Then the sequester will be a weapon that points only at the Democrats, rather than at both parties, which is what Obama and the Republicans both want.

    Of course, the Republicans may choose to use the debt ceiling at some future date. Which they will probably do at some point, when they feel the need to do so.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:53:25 AM PST

    •  Agree. Sequestration is the (9+ / 0-)

      Next battle but will also be joined by fights over the continuing resolution and upcoming appropriations acts. They really have little leverage in sequestration because of the way it is structured and how married they are to defense spending.

      As far as debt limit confrontations in the future, if the President succeeds with his current approach, I think it will go along way towards defusing the use of the debt limit as a hostage tool later on.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:57:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your CT isn't CT-y enough (5+ / 0-)

      President Obama probably told John Beohner to threaten the 2011 debt-limit crisis in the first place so that he could see through the empty bluff and thus have his chance to cackle madly and wreak his dreams of destruction upon America. Because if anyone is to be blamed, it certainly is not the GOP. It's the Evil Obama Show!

      •  Your knee jerk defensive response isn't (10+ / 0-)

        knee jerky enough. Read the comment above yours. The OP, whom you praised lavishly in your first comment in the thread, happens to agree that the debt ceiling is not the real battle and that the Dems are going to get bested in the sequester negotiations.

        The threats by the Republican House to blow up the economy by refusing to approve the ceiling increase are all for show. They know it. Obama knows it. And the Grand Bargain will be struck at sequester time.

        Unlike many here at the GOS, I don't believe Obama is a poor negotiator or "weak" in any way. From Day One he's been getting pretty much everything he wants - austerity, "shared" sacrifice and inexorable movement toward immediate resolution of the "debt crisis."

        Wear it proud. Wear it loud. Outlaw concealed carry. That gun hidden under your coat won't deter shit.

        by WisePiper on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:18:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I concur except that I think the Democrats will (9+ / 0-)

          Get the better of the Republicans when sequestration is revisited. The Republicans are so tied to reversing the military cuts that they will be willing to give on a lot of the other domestic spending.

          Further, affiant sayeth not.

          by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:22:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting ... (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aitchdee, j0em0mma, PLS, Quicklund, amsterdam

          Your opinion of Obama is strangely familiar ... a Manchurian candidate who came to power promising the opposite of what he intended to deliver.  I think I read it first of FreeRepublic ... but I'll keep an open mind. Who knows? You all could be right!

        •  Perhaps my knee did jerk (5+ / 0-)

          It tends to do that when the vastly complex push-and-pull of Washington DC politics is reduced to the like of PBO set it all up so he could push through the Medicare and SS cuts he wants.

          In the first place, no one can set up all the various power centers that influence American politics.

          In the second place, my eyes rebel when they read someone who simply must insist they can read the Presidential mind. I don't think the President wants to cut SS/MA any more than he wants this nation to be in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

          •  I used the verb "wants" as a rough synonym for (6+ / 0-)

            acting in accordance with his beliefs.

            It doesn't take super duper mind reading skills to discern what the president believes in. One need only look at the track records of the individuals he has appointed throughout his presidency to advise him and help shape his policies.

            It wasn't until just a couple months before his reelection that he started paying lip service to more populist themes in an effort to shore up the support of the base. Prior to that it was 3 1/2 years of obsessive concentration on the need to get spending under control. He has never explicitly acknowledged the historically proven fact that the way to grow out of a recession is to put money into the hands of those who will immediately spend it in the economy.

            Those who incessantly bend over backwards to justify Obama's every move fail to understand that advocacy and negotiation are two entirely separate things. One can forcefully and consistently advocate for what is needed, while at the same time settling for less than what is needed in the face of opposition party obstructionism. Obama has failed at the advocacy component, and, I would submit, willfully.

            Willfully, not because he wants the American people to suffer, but because he believes that austerity and entitlement "reform" and ensuring the continued health of the TBTF banks are keys to growing the economy.

            And, he is dead fucking wrong.

            Wear it proud. Wear it loud. Outlaw concealed carry. That gun hidden under your coat won't deter shit.

            by WisePiper on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:39:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FiredUpInCA, Quicklund

        so true. Especially as sequestration really hurts them more, as it is probably the only way defense would ever really get a haircut given our current realities. Howard Dean actually would like to see the sequestration go forward chiefly for this reason. He is also really apposed to deficients, but I think he is wrong about that part.  

        Stating the defense will be defended makes no sense, as it was the Dems who insisted on those cuts being included.  

    •  Your opening thesis that there (23+ / 0-)

      will be no fight over the debt ceiling is undercut by the fact that the President and his team held a press conference today that was centered around telling the Republicans in Congress to get their act together and raise the debt ceiling and stop threatening the economy by using the full faith and credit of the US as a bargaining chip.

      Furthermore, the letter from Reid urging the President to use any and all powers to avoid a debt default crisis also signals that those who signed that letter believe that there is truth to the Republican threats to default if they do not get their way.

      I'm going with the theory that the threat is real and that this press conference was staged well in advance of the actual deadline as a means to force the Congress to act now and take care of that item on their "to do list" - or give him the responsibility if the Members are uncomfortable taking the vote.

      It was a very smart move and it really would be good for the country and the economy if they moved that particular item along rather than letting it hang out there and letting it hurt growth just by being an unresolved item.

      That was probably politically the smartest press conference I've ever seen him give.

      •  I agree with you and was suggesting just this (10+ / 0-)

        In my article. But I think what was being suggested by limpidglass in this comment is that the President is going to win. He is confident that when the time comes the Republicans will give in. I agree.

        At least that's what I think limpidglass meant. :-)

        Further, affiant sayeth not.

        by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:11:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do not know whether he will win or (11+ / 0-)

          not because these people are a lot crazier than most rational people can comprehend, but I can say that no one will be able to say that the President didn't act as smartly and strategically as he could have under the circumstances - not at this juncture, at least.

          •  Some of them are crazy, that's for sure (7+ / 0-)

            but not ALL of them.

            And if Boehner is smart(er than he acts), he'll bring the bill to the floor even if it passes with only the minimum GOP votes needed for passage.

            Just like the 'fiscal cliff'.

            •  The question is ... (4+ / 0-)

              is there a critical mass of crazy in the Republican caucus.  I think that's a very close question.  The failure of Speaker Boner's "Plan B" suggests there very well might be.

              “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

              by jrooth on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:43:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Now that Boehner is going to have these (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gary Norton, aitchdee, Matt Z, Quicklund

              bills moved through committee instead of say simply calling for a vote on raising the debt ceiling, there's a lot of room for ridiculousness - and a lot of people who are intent on acting ridiculously.

              There are numerous scenarios in which a bill could come to the floor where there would be no Democratic support because of crazy cuts that may well be attached to the bill - but also not just no Dem support - not enough GOP alignment to pass it either.

              Boehner might well be able to pass a straight bill that only raised the Debt Limit with Democrat's help, but even that's not an absolute certainty right now.

              The Republican caucus is all over the place and the majority are now extremist Tea Partiers.  All the more reason for the President to tell them to get their House in order, so to speak.  

            •  How do you like my CT? (0+ / 0-)

              The thought of default is so odious that McConnell has asked Boehner to do him the favor of bringing the debt ceiling to a vote without the "majority of the majority." It will pass and make Boehner look like he can run the House rationally in spite of the nuts he has to deal with in his caucus.

              Seeing this, the Senate Democrats will guess, wrongly of course, that the Republicans are at last going to behave themselves, consider the needs of the nation, and therefore, there will be no need to change the filibuster rules.

              McConnell will then, through the filibuster, once again control the Senate the way God intended.

          •  They are not crazy. They have sponsors to think (6+ / 0-)


            Now there are some real nutters, I'm sure given the recentTeabagger ascendancy, but the majority of them are working directly for their sponsors.

            So what we have to do is not judge their metrics for success by what is good for our people, but what is good for profits.

            That's where the leverage has to happen, and given this administration's and the DLC leadership of the Democratic party, is never going to happen.

            We really need to judge the situation by the metrics of the principals, not by the metrics of the peasants like us.

            It's kind of like how people think that Bush was some sort of terrible failure, when in reality he was extremely successful - everything he wanted but Social Security, and laid a powerful foundation and socio-economic-political trend that gave it a head of steam.

            Here we are.

            Hope that makes sense.

            Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

            by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:34:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My money is that the repubs will give in (6+ / 0-)

              and provide enough votes with the dems to avoid a crisis.

              But before that there will be a lot of closed door meetings to see which members will support the increase, and which can vote against - based on the politics of their districts. Same as happened with the fiscal cliff.

              •  Absolutely. That is what will happen (5+ / 0-)

                but this time, unlike with the Fiscal Cliff, Nancy Pelosi may tell Boehner that he needs to muster at least a majority of Republicans to vote for the bill. Sadly, even Democrats don't like to vote for debt limit increases and she'll be wanting to give as many of them cover as possible.

                Further, affiant sayeth not.

                by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:57:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What makes you think Boehner... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Gary Norton, MichaelNY

                  ...can find a majority of the majority? Default is stupid, but too many on the right think voting to raise the ceiling "won't play in Peoria" or wherever they are from. They'll take their chances with a broken economy.

                  Pelosi knows this and so do the Democrats she leads. She'll have to cough up nearly all the votes to avoid default.

            •  Sponsors? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gary Norton, k9disc, Matt Z

              I've always thought of them as their owners.

              If you want something other than the obvious to happen; you've got to do something other than the obvious. Douglas Adams

              by trillian on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:56:31 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Sponsors or owners - whatever anyone (6+ / 0-)

              wants to call them - are not turning out to be quite as powerful of a force in uniting this caucus and that's because the tea partiers are that crazy and there are a lot of them in the House.

              Going back to Bush, the Republicans walked lock-step together when he was President.  Those days are long gone and the differences between the factions within the caucus are great enough to have created their own private world of gridlock within their ranks.

              I think that one of the mistakes people around here make is framing this controversy in terms of Obama winning or losing.  A definition of a win is mighty broad on a certain level and whether Obama personally wins or not isn't as important as whether or not the people and the country "win" - or really if you limit the discussion exclusively to the question of the Debt Ceiling, what we are talking about whether or not America gets hurt by crazy people.  

              We don't really "win" by not defaulting or by not getting so close to default that the economy and world markets are destabilized.  That's not a win - or should not be defined as a win - that should be defined as "correct", "normal", "responsible", "rational", and "sane" policy for a country such as ours.

              Obama did a smart thing today.  By saying that there is no game, he nullified the concept of playing with this fire as offering the potential for anyone thinking about winning.  It is a totally counter-productive tactic on the part of the Republicans - if anything going down the road of default threat or reality is a no win situation for anyone.

              Basically, Obama can't do anything in this situation other than to make the rational case for sane governance, but the rest is up to  the Congress and specifically the House Republicans.  It is all on them and a lot of them are crazy - crazy people are often immune to reason from anyone - even sponsors.

              •  They have not been pushed yet... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                inclusiveheart, divineorder, elwior

                They are allowed to play the crazy card, the crazy uncle - didn't Reagan do that back in the day with the Ruskies?

                Put them in a corner and let their caucus sort it out. Let them have their great cleaving (corporate and social conservatives). Force it.

                I'm kind of bummed that you took the 'Obama's win' idea and left out the idea that we're looking at the wrong place to apply pressure.

                These guys have sponsors. These guys have Think Tanks.

                We should be looking at the goals and desired outcomes of the think tanks and corporate sponsors of public policy in order to predict their movements and gauge their success.

                We are totally looking at the wrong metrics for success by the principals in our political system. We are viewing them through our needs and desires and what would be good for us. That's why so many of us, on both sides of the aisle scratch our heads or get pissed off when there is a political non sequitur. But it totally does follow if you look at true needs and desires of the principals.

                Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

                by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:29:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  In the grand scheme of things the sponsors (4+ / 0-)

                  are hugely influential and I agree with all of what you say about big picture understanding being a key to better success and actual wins.  

                  On the Debt Ceiling question, however, I'm taking a very narrow view in part because I think it is a more advantageous frame in the quest to avert another Republican-created crisis.  Obama is shutting down the debate on this front and rightly so.

                  •  I hope you're right... I don't have faith in his (3+ / 0-)

                    chosen direction, I think he's tacking right sullying Democrats and socialists and saddling us with the end results of failed conservative policies. I think he serves corporate and the GDP first, and therefore don't trust him to negotiate for our future on these issues.

                    It's a real bummer.

                    I do think there is value to looking at the metrics and goals of the true constituents of our current government, the corporate sponsors, and contrasting them to what we need as a people and what we are offered in terms of policy choices.

                    We need to have a wakening on that front.

                    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

                    by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:25:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

                      On the Debt Ceiling though progressive objectives are the most vulnerable.  The choice between avoiding worldwide economic contraction and giving up important programs would give the rightwing the absolute upper hand with a huge majority of people.  That's why isolating the debt ceiling debate is critical, IMO.  It is a false choice that should not be a choice.  

      •  I think the next step will be (12+ / 0-)

        meeting with Congressional leaders and laying out how things will go if they don't get their shit together.

        1 - stop paying all govt contractors not in a war zone.
        2 - cut pay for all govt employees above a certain grade (because it is assumed they have some money available)
        3 - delay income tax refunds and corporate subsidies, including those for oil, gas, etc.
        3 - start closing various agencies and laying off employees.

        I don't think we'd ever get past #1. Once those big govt contractors don't get paid, or THINK they won't, they'll put so much pressure on Congress that that debt ceiling bill will practically fly.

    •  Why would the president cut SS (15+ / 0-)

      because of threatened sequester cuts.  SS, Medicare and Medicaid are shielded in the sequester. More likely other discretionary domestic cuts which are to be stretched out over nine years will be argued in face of  DOD cuts. The cuts are much more odious for republicans. The President sees a smaller military footprint for the United States. You people never got the sequester deal.

    •  If there is a deal involving defense cuts (0+ / 0-)

      I think it would involve removing an equal amount of domestic spending cuts from the sequester in addition to raising the debt ceiling.

    •  Boehner doesn't want a fight (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, Eric Nelson, Quicklund

      but it's not clear he can avoid it. Rumor is that the majority of Republicans will not accept a clean debt limit increase. Unofficial Republican rules are that the Speaker can't even bring up a bill without the support of the majority of Republicans. So if Boehner even brings up a debt limit for a vote, it's civil war time in the Republican party. Likewise (albeit with different actors) if a minority of Republicans sign on to a Democratic discharge petition to force a vote over Boehner's objections.

    •  strongly disagree (6+ / 0-)
      But the sequestered cuts are much more odious to the Democrats than the Republicans
    •  An economy can't collapse (0+ / 0-)

      since people need to eat and have a place to sleep.

      If the car needs gas to go, it will be bought.

      If you want electricity for lighting and cooking, you'll need to pay for it.

      If your faucets gush water uncontrollably or a pipe bursts, Mr. Plumber will get a call to come.

      Like to chat online? Mr. ISP Owner expects $$.

      Even in Somalia, the dollars and Euros change hands frequently.

  •  What I heard him say - which I thought (28+ / 0-)

    was tactically spot on - was not that he was going to be in a "face off" with Congress, but instead that the Debt Ceiling is for Congress to decide and that unless they give him the authority to raise the Debt Limit, he's out of the debate.

    It is a very smart strategy for the long run as the exchange between the President and Major Garrett's illustrated.  Funny, how handy Fox News can be in a way - lol - Garrett was pushing Obama towards a scenario that would create endless monthly or quarterly showdowns on the Debt Ceiling and Obama basically said "No".  He said that governing by crisis was irresponsible and that putting the full faith and credit of the United States at risk was irresponsible.

    He washed his hands of this debate over the Debt Ceiling which has great potential to end this endless merry-go-round of attempts to take the country down just because they want to hurt this President.

    Smart play.

    Not sure it will prevent a Debt Crisis, but it certainly does keep the President's hands clean.  I have no doubt that if the Republicans decide to go with a plan to default that the President will make use of any of the options he has to protect the country to the extent that he can, but by saying that he's not going to even entertain those options because it should never come to it - that is an awesome and smart line to draw in the sand.

  •  Thank you Gary Norton. This is what.. (9+ / 0-)

    .. I've been advocating for some time. No maneuvers or complicated workarounds that would tend to give cover to GOP, but direct challenge to the GOP:

    If the right wingers want to play hostage games let them do it - no cover, or excuses to hide behind. Make them show themselves - they're on their own playing this game.

    P.S. I'm curious though: Why has the meme been that the money has already been spent? That these are bills that have come due, not just appropriated but actually outstanding debts already incurred?

    Many people have suggested this possibility by arguing that the Congress has passed Appropriations Acts and that they require the President to spend the money appropriated, a requirement which conflicts with the debt limit law. That argument has little merit. There is no statute that says money that is appropriated must be spent if there is no money available.
    ..guess my understanding of that part doesn't matter much, cuz it should be about allowing the republicans the 'freedomz' (they say they're ready to die for) to demostrate to the world how low. destructive and incompetent they really are -  I was just curious.
    •  I brought that up to address the arguments (11+ / 0-)

      Some have made that this is not a constitutional issue, but rather a conflict between two statutory provisions. The reality as far as the money being spent his concern is that the money actually hasn't been spent until it leaves the Treasury. What has happened is that contracts have been signed which the government is obligated to pay money on. In addition, the government has legally obligated itself to pay many things such as Medicare and Social Security bills. The money hasn't actually been spent yet  the obligation surely exists.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:56:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of the money spent is the payback to social (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      security fund which they don't want to have to do. It was so nice banking those fat tax cuts bought on credit. You owe people the money you borrowed + interest....SS, bond holders, other nations with armies, soldiers in war zones, to name just a few...

      When I calculate a budget I have to take into account debts I signed on for and how much frigging interest they charge... which has changed depending on how much they trust me to pay back... so my interest goes up based on what they perceive as risk... like others not paying and walking.

      I think that the federal government (recognize that fed or state or city or county is not a family budget) owes many people money for agreements (laws) they enacted and people relied on with trust...Bust the trust and bust the government... revenge of the rebels ... destruction.... Of everyones economy where with thier beloved guns they think they can become warlords of the new Somalia.

      Fear is the Mind Killer...

      by boophus on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:53:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe a constutional crisis is best (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    Perhaps the president should pick option three if the system is irreparably broken, so as to hasten whatever needs to happen to replace the Constitution, just as the Articles of Confederation were replaced.

  •  The debt and deficit deals ARE gimmicks themselves (5+ / 0-)

    I don't really care about this debate. It will play out long term bad or short term worse and the root causes and other serious issues will continue to be glossed over.

    Who really cares how they fight to save those profits?

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:17:57 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this informative diary. Brass Tacks nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Quicklund, elwior

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:27:58 PM PST

  •  The debt ceiling law obviously has to be repealed (9+ / 0-)

    To make this more politically possible, though, how about requiring that any bill that has an impact on the budget, from a spending or tax perspective, has to also adjust the debt ceiling upward (or downward) to reflect its impact on the budget. I realize that such impact can only be estimated as nearly all bills have budgetary impact well beyond the present time, and the further out that is the harder it is to estimate its actual budgetary impact. But it seems insane to appropriate funds (or cut taxes) without taking into account the debt ceiling impact. If bill X is projected to raise the debt ceiling by Y, then the debt ceiling has to be raised by Y when bill X is passed, not at some future date.

    I.e. if you spend it, you have to pay it, even if you have to borrow to pay it.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:33:45 PM PST

    •  Agree that the law does need to be (7+ / 0-)

      Repealed. We have not always had a debt limit law. I would love to see us go back to the times when we didn't. I think an easier way to get it what you are talking about is to include a few additional words in every bill. Each one already includes language which says,

      "there is authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this act."
      The new language could say
      "there is authorized to be appropriated, and to issue any debt necessary therefore such sums as are necessary to carry out this act."
      Of course, if that becomes the boilerplate there is no debt limit.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:40:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton, divineorder, elwior

        For a government to spend money that it may have to borrow to pay for it but that it doesn't necessarily intend to pay back is to declare to the world that it's word and credit are no good and that only a fool would do business with it on credit. Instead of ignorantly comparing us to Greece, Repubs would effectively turn us into Greece, like a deliberately self-fulfilling prophesy.

        This seems almost martial law territory, or something to that effect.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:53:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  i wish he'd needle the repukes about this AND (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the vote against Sandy aid--they didn't even vote for 9 billion, let alone the 60 billion that the NE asked for...

    let's recap the crap:
    repukes not voting to help those in need in the NE.
    though, voting yes for aid for tornados and hurricanes in the South.
    voting to shut down the govt and ruin the credit rating.

    what a petulant lil bunch o flamin a**holes.

    "A dollah makes me hollah"-- Stephen Colbert, pretending to be S. Palin

    by stagemom on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:39:40 PM PST

  •  Well done! This is all reasonable and solid. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Quicklund, elwior

    The whole fabricated crisis shouldn't even be happening and it's clear the Republican position is indefensible.  Then I remember this is a crew who will sink their ship because they don't like the captain.

    "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

    by leftreborn on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:40:37 PM PST

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

    for a well-reasoned and informative diary.  In particular, I hadn't seen the reasoning regarding the 14th Amendment option before and I can now see why the administration has ruled that out.

    I have been a proponent of the coin "gimmick" - reasoning that it would be worth the likely political price (which I think could be successfully mitigated by strong messaging about the necessity of using this gimmick being forced on the president by a dangerously reckless Republican congress.)  But I can certainly support this strategy as well, provided President Obama does not flinch no matter how far the Republicans let this run.

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:41:08 PM PST

  •  Clear and well written. (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for it.

    I get to choose, and I choose love.

    by Melanie in IA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:58:21 PM PST

  •  w/out gimmicks it goes back to the US vs the talk (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, blueoasis, elwior

    radio gods

    what compromises will they get next, merely because the misinformed talk radio/teabagger base believes the limbaughs and hannitys who tell them default will be no big deal and to use that leverage is the only way to save america.

    the O admin should be blasting the country with ads educating the country and countering the RW radio/fox talking points on the debt ceiling.

    the sad part is there is still NO organized opposition to the right's best weapon.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:02:51 PM PST

  •  I must defer to your experience in politics, but, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    What does Obama want as the take-away from these negotiations?  He seems to have challenged Congress to a "put up or shut up" show down but the Republicans did an excellent job of selling their story without having to actually propose anything, even when they were being called out by nearly everyone but Fox.  Then the President gave a lot of political bonus points to Mitchell at the end of the fiscal cliff fiasco.  Despite this new conference, what will Obama have to / be willing to give in exchange for an end to this chapter?  When we will start dealing with the actual problems we have, or are the background stories referring to 'near agreements' closer to a reality than seems from the outside?

    The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. A. A. Milne

    by Memory Corrupted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:24:08 PM PST

    •  He wants a clean debt limit increase and (7+ / 0-)

      If he holds out I think you can actually get. If not, it will be tied to some other things but they may not simply be spending cuts.

      Frankly I'm not sure that there are any wheel issues that need to be addressed on the fiscal side except to regenerate another trillion in revenue. The president wants that and to get it he will undoubtedly agreed to some cuts but has been pretty masterful at limiting the effects of those cuts.

      What he really wants is to avoid using the sequester, the appropriations acts, the debt limit, and the continuing resolution has one roadblock after another making us lurch from crisis to crisis.

      I suspect, as Paul Krugman wrote this weekend, the President agrees that we are not all that far away from achieving fiscal sustainability. That is one of the reasons why I think he is trying to knife through these fiscal bills so that he can get to bills that he really cares about, such as gun-control and immigration reform.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:29:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe I'm just not that optimistic anymore. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton
        we are not all that far away from achieving fiscal sustainability.
        We still have a huge deficit and even larger deferred obligations.  I'd love to believe it's as simple as reversing the W tax plans and we'd revert to Clinton surpluses.  But, it's not simple and the monies on the right are fighting mightily against increasing their share of the load.  Also, lurching from crisis to crisis makes for dramatic press reports and has been shown to be a great strategy for the (R), will they be willing to give that up too?  
        It sounds so easy 'regenerate another trillion in revenue', that's only 7% :-), more or less.  A clean debt limit bill might let us get to the crux, but the devil is still very much alive and well in the details.

        The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. A. A. Milne

        by Memory Corrupted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:41:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read Krugman's article. He points out (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, elwior

          that with an additional $1T over ten years we are on a path to keep the debt at 70% of GDP for decades and why that is acceptable.

          Further, affiant sayeth not.

          by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:55:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Acceptable in the sense of (0+ / 0-)

            Running debt at that level would be a small enough millstone that America could lumber on. But running an ongoing debt at 70% GDP level amounts to a perpetual bankers welfare program. in exchange for - nothing - we ship a trillion dollars to the bankers every year for forever.

            I think that by the term "acceptable" Mr Krugman means is that at the 70% level decision-making need not be done in panic mode. That the nation can take a long-term and pragmatic approach to lowering the overall debt.

            "Long-term in DC" I crack myself up.

          •  I don't know which article that is. He's (0+ / 0-)

            fairly prolific in documenting his opinions.  Doing some googling I found him saying:

            I know basic economic thinking is that debt exceeding 90% of GDP measurably slows growth, consequently a position of 70% would give a safety margin.  My post was an expression of doubt that the competing interests will truely come to a solution to the ills rather a continuation of politics as usual.  (I did mean 7%, as in 1T is appx 7% of 14T)
            Having said that, since the wealthy require growth for their own self interests, perhaps there's enough motivation for them to actually give some ground on the revenue side.

            The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. A. A. Milne

            by Memory Corrupted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:03:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Upper West, elwior, MichaelNY

    I was under the impression that the President has to spend every dollar that Congress appropriates due to the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.  This act removed the executive branches ability to simply decide not the spend what was appropriated.  So it would be this statute versus the debt limit.  If the president has to spend every dollar in the budget and Congress/Executive both have to pay all debts then Congress basically implicitly raises the debt ceiling every time they write budget.  Unless they undo the budget or the Impoundment Act, then the Executive has to spend and borrow.  Congress can tell the President to spend and borrow but cannot tell him to spend and default.  That is unconstitutional.  That is how I read it anyway.

    •  I discussed that and linked to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, Quicklund, elwior, MichaelNY

      the case, Trane v City of New York, in which the Supreme Court held that Nixon was required to spend appropriated funds, i.e., that impoundment was unconstitutional.

      But in that case there was more than enough money in the Treasury to pay for the activities that had been funded through the appropriations act. That would not be the case now. The question now would be whether the Treasury can spend money it doesn't have due to the fact that it's current receipts are less than its current obligations and its authority to borrow additional money has been stopped.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:53:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Executive Requirement (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The president has 3 options and all of them are illegal.  He can not spend which is illegal under the Impoundment Act, borrow more which is illegal under the Debt Limit, or default which is illegal under the 14th Amendment.  So which of the three then becomes unconstitutional, the debt limit.  The 14th Amendment trumps statory law, so it stays.  Between the Impoundment Act or the Debt Limit, the latest statute is the one that takes precedent.  So that means that the debt limit is then unconstitutional.

        •  This was addressed extensively in the (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, elwior, MichaelNY

          article. For the President the question was not whether there are colorable legal argument could be made, but rather whether he would assert that he has the authority to declare a law unconstitutional and refuse to abide by it. I discuss at some length why that is not something he wants to do.

          Further, affiant sayeth not.

          by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:28:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not an Option (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FishOutofWater, chaboard

            It is not really an option.  Every position he takes is against one of these laws, he has to make a decision.  I understand the argument you are making.  You are saying that the president does not have to spend appropriated funds because Congress appropriates funds in the Treasury and has not provided a way to fund the Treasury.  It is the equivalent of the president deciding that Congress did not appropriate more than allows the Treasury to contain.  While the president can read the law this way, that is just what he is doing, reading the law a way he wants.  There is no affirmative law stating that appropriated funds are no longer appropriated if Congress does not provide a means for funding them.  The Impoundment Act only requires the president to spend what has been appropriated.  To use your argument is the same as using a colorable argument to evade abiding by the Impoundment Act.  He is in the same place however he chooses to act.

            The debt limit is unconstitutional, not because the president decides to declare that it is but because Congress cannot give a clear command to the executive branch to spend money and then a contradictory command not to pay for it.  Congress lacks that authority and the executive is not bound by a command that Congress lacks the authority to give.

            I don't think the president has to deem the debt limit unconstitutional.  I think the executive can only at best make a good faith attempt to comply with constitution.  The constitutional crisis already exists, we are just deciding how to most faithfully react to it.

      •  You Wrote (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton
        This question is totally different than the question of whether the President can refuse to spend appropriated funds when such funds are available, which the Supreme Court has ruled to be unconstitutional.
        Was the "when such funds are available" clause explicit in either the 1974 Act or in the cited decision - or is its inclusion your own interpretation?  

        Thanks for a thoughtful diary.

        •  This was not an issue in the case because (0+ / 0-)

          the Treasury had funds which Nixon impounded. The 1974 Budget Act does not and would have no reason to discuss this issue. That law does two things. First it established the first process for the creation and adoption of congressional budgets. Second it established the procedures that must be followed in order for the executive to impound funds. The language that I cited from the appropriations act appears in all appropriations acts.

          Further, affiant sayeth not.

          by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:05:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Asset sales (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton, elwior

        The US has some $400 billion in gold, plus assorted other fairly liquid assets, such as the strategic oil reserve. Wouldn't there be some sort of requirement to sell those assets to pay the bills?

        Incidentally the mere threat of gold sales will freak out the Tea Party - those folks have all their investments in gold.

        Could Obama make a recision request to defer payment of some bills for 45 days? That would let him pick and choose who to pay which could be politically advantageous.

        •  recission not recision (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry for the typo

          •  rescission, not either of the other spellings (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            got it right eventually...

            •  Executive Powers (0+ / 0-)

              I don't think the president has the power to pick and choose.  He could assume such powers if he chooses to go by Gary's argument but I think that would be inappropriate.  The president has no power to choose which appropriations to enact.  While I do agree that the president's approach so far is politically smart, I think in the end, he is constitutionally required to keep borrowing.  I also think the president believes so as well.  During the press conference, he said "They cannot do that." after detailing that congress commands him to spend and then says that he cannot pay.

              I think not raising the debt ceiling is an unlawful act by congress.  They literally cannot choose not to pay for the debt.  I believe the president must take it as implicit that congress provides sufficient borrowing power to meet any appropriations they command him to incur.  If congress wants to assert that it's appropriations are conditional and that the president is required to choose amongst appropriations, they must pass a bill to say so.  I think House Republicans are actually trying to do that already.

              I don't think picking and choosing is politically advantageous.  I think it is the goal of the House Republicans.  Their entire goal is to create a situation where the president cannot raise taxes and must cut spending and the president is the one who has to decide what gets cut and kept.  They want that weight to be the president's.  They are cowards.  Cut, Cap, and Balance was an attempt to create such a situation as well.  This is also why McConnell and Boehner are always saying the president needs to get serious on spending as opposed to simply asking for specific cuts.  The president is trying to avoid having to assume Congress' job while being constrained by Republicans to achieve their spending goals.

        •  Suppose he could sell things for which he has (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, MichaelNY

          authority under current law, but he won't for the reasons stated. That only delays the inevitable. The debt limit must be raised and putting it off doesn't achieve anything positive.

          Look, the limit has already been breached. We are not in default now only because of the "extraordinary" measures such as canceling the Treasury instruments issued to the Civil Service Retirement Fund. And what has that done but give the Republicans two more months to diddle the country.

          Further, affiant sayeth not.

          by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:01:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I would like for Gary to weigh in on this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, elwior

      because his post is the first I've seen to argue that the President would not be breaking a law if the executive cannot spend appropriated funds.  It has been taken for granted in most commentary on this that the President would have to choose between breaking the Debt Ceiling law and an appropriations law.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:40:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't really add anything more than (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, Upper West, MichaelNY

        what I wrote. But one needs only stop for a minute and consider this. If the 1974 Act, and the law as it existed prior to then which as ruled on by the Supreme court, required the President to order the Treasury to issue debt in violation of the debt limit law he signed months ago he would not jump at the chance to do so.

        Anyone who thinks that the President and the Treasury Secretary didn't ask for detailed legal opinions on this doesn't understand how this works. I doubt those opinions spend much time on this non-issue. I do suspect they discuss whether arguments could be made under the 14th Amendment, platinum coin, and the rest, but it would be left to the President to decide if he wanted to take any of those routes.

        Lawyers tell their clients what they can and can't do and the risks involved. The client may even ask for a recommendation that gets into legal as well as other considerations, political, economic, what have you. But the client is the one who  must decide.

        Further, affiant sayeth not.

        by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:01:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like a lot of badly written law..Need some (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Upper West

          body to clarify all conflicts coherently. Is there any means to do so without involving the bozos in congress who seem to think they are at some kindergarten party playing with silly putty and fingerpaints.

          Fear is the Mind Killer...

          by boophus on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:09:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  And I'm perfectly cool with it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, FiredUpInCA

    Let the GOP default.

    Chickenshit bastards ain't got the guts to blow their own lizard brains out!@

  •  The list of people thus far (13+ / 0-)

    who have bet against this President-- and won--is a very, very short list.

    In fact it's so short I can't even think who's on it.

  •  He must take care to STOP referring to..... (4+ / 0-)

    ....Congress and instead refer to "Radical Republicans saboteurs in Congress".

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:51:26 PM PST

    •  I agree--the "Congress" label (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, defluxion10, elwior

      is inappropriate and needs to be revised. This is not the "Congress's'" debacle. It's a debacle wholly instigated and owned by the Republican Political Party.

    •  "House Republicans" will do n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, defluxion10, elwior

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

      by Andrew C White on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:45:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He has been repeatedly putting the onus on the GOP (4+ / 0-)
      If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits will be delayed.  We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners.  Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear material wouldn’t get their paychecks.  Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is, in fact, a safe bet.  Markets could go haywire.

      So we've got to pay our bills.  And Republicans in Congress have two choices here:  They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills; or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis.
      They better choose quickly, because time is running short.  The last time Republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history;

      The President made 24 mentions of Republicans in today's press conference.

      The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

      by FiredUpInCA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:37:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That HAS to be a new record... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't think he's EVER mentioned the word Republican in public before.  A good sign, methinks.


        by LordMike on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:43:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Even this man who seems so unflappable can reach (0+ / 0-)

        limits...LOL always trying to be civil and willing to work out agreements he encounters a group not far advanced beyond 5 year olds. LOL enough to make even parents who love em run for the liquor cabinet at times. Geesh, with my fiiery temper wouldn't have lasted the first year.

        Fear is the Mind Killer...

        by boophus on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:14:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Preferred Option (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    This diary begs the question of what the President can -- or, rather, should -- do if the Republicans aren't bluffing and the debt limit is reached with no work around.  As the diary says, the President can't spend appropriated money unless there is money on hand to spend.  Which means that in the absence of money, the President need not comply with the laws that appropriate spending.

    Which means the President has discretion in deciding which bills to pay and which ones not to pay.

    And that means, if I were the President, the option of laying off every federal employee in a Congressional district represented by a Republican.  I would also lay off every Congressional staffer, every Congressional secretary, and all the security guards at the Capitol.  Let the Congressfucks type their own tripe and protect themselves.

    If the Republicans want to push it to the point where there isn't enough money to pay all the bills, they are handing the President a weapon of (Republican) mass destruction.  Unfortunately for us, Obama is not the kind of person to try something so nasty (and potentially effective).

    So all I can say is that the Republicans are lucky they're dealing with Barack  Obama instead of a Democratic version of Nixon.  Or me.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:32:33 PM PST

    •  You are right. He's not Nixon. My (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smileycreek, Dartagnan, Quicklund, elwior

      sense is that it will be done on a pro rata basis across the board. It is sad but true that the best way to bring political pressure is to to affect the largest number of people and that includes seniors and, unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable. You can rest assured that if the Department of Health and Human Services  sends out a letter advising tens of millions of seniors that their Social Security checks are going to be reduced because of Congresses' inaction, the limit will be raised.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:52:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This suggestion just might work (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton
        You can rest assured that if the Department of Health and Human Services  sends out a letter advising tens of millions of seniors that their Social Security checks are going to be reduced because of Congresses' inaction, the limit will be raised.
        Obama does have some real leverage here if he decides to use it.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:07:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  As long as the public understands (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton, elwior

        it's the Republicans in the "Congress."

      •  Theoretically He May Have The Power To Decide (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton, elwior

        what gets funded and what doesn't, but I think a key question is how much choice the current accounting computer systems can in practice accomodate on short notice with no serious re-programing.  

        This is, after all, a highly PRACTICAL problem in a dimension orthogonal to all the legal theory.

  •  i hope you're right (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, rolet, Andrew C White, elwior

    if he refuses to give in, he and the country win.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:51:20 PM PST

  •  Obama's strategy seems like a good (4+ / 0-)

    one in regard to the debt ceiling.  Thanks for the diary!

  •  Personally I love it (5+ / 0-)

    this is exactly the sort of hardball I have wanted from him and I think this is the best opportunity for him to play it.

    For those that have argued that he is weak, capitulates or is a bad negotiater (not tough enough)... here it is... right here. He is playing for keeps and is going to force the Republicans to back down and back down very publicly.

    I love it.

    While I think both the 14th and the coin are legal options based on the wording of the law I am pleased as punch that he is not going down either road and agree with him completely. No gimmicks. That would be letting the House Republicans get away with their game. Nope. Force them to grow the fuck up and stop with the games. He's taking them over his knee like the little boys they are.

    I love it.

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

    by Andrew C White on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:44:27 PM PST

    •  Yeah, I was a bit disappointed... (5+ / 0-)

      when the platinum coin was ruled out, but I'm coming around.  Sometimes the only way to win the game is not to play, and announcing that he's leaving this in congress' lap may be the smart move.  

      Of course, he'll have to tell the media that about 20 times before they get it, but since we're a few weeks from disaster, there might be time for them to figure it out, despite their best efforts.

      I don't know what's been trickling down, but it hasn't been pleasant---N. Pelosi

      by Russycle on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:10:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Disagree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, delver rootnose

    Will write a response tomorrow.

    •  Going back to 2011 you have argued in (0+ / 0-)

      articles and comments that the President has one or more legal means to circumvent the debt limit statute and I think you advocated his taking one of them.

      During that same time I have agreed, as I did here, that there are reasonable legal arguments the President could make to take those actions but that the President would not make them for a variety of reasons. Until today I have only talked about what the President would do and why, without really getting into my druthers.  

      Given that, I'm looking forward to reading what about the article I've written today you disagree with.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:49:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was brusque by me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton

        Excellent article.

        I disagree with certain political judgments and some emphasis on certain legal conclusions.

        I may not be able to respond until Sunday essay time.

        Don't worry, prominent links and, I hope fair characterization.

        •  Thanks. I've read enough of what you've (0+ / 0-)

          written to know you are thoughtful, thorough, and fair. Look forward to your article.

          One thing you might want to get into is what happens if there is a default. I just read the Treasury OIG  letter from August which seems to be the last most complete word on the subject. Looks like delayed payments is the preferred option.

          I mention this because many people raised the issue in comments.

          Further, affiant sayeth not.

          by Gary Norton on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:29:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  If yours get's bumped to the front page (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton

      make sure his gets bumped as well.

      "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

      by anonevent on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:18:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We'll see (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Fury, elwior

    It would be truly insane for the GOP to push this angle when they already have the sequester about to trigger.  There is more than enough spending cuts in the sequester to make any austerity nut happy.  Balking on the debt ceiling will actually increase the deficit.  But keep in mind that we are not dealing with rational people in the GOP.  They may balk at the debt ceiling just to make their nut ball base happy.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:42:08 PM PST

  •  I've always thought (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Boppy, FiredUpInCA, elwior

    that the magic coin - even IF it was legal - would cost us the high ground in this and be seen as a gimmick by the public at large.

    But I had heard the argument that the president would be forced to break the law if the debt ceiling wasn't raised (ie, if he didn't spend $ that was appropriated). So that information about the language in appropriations is very helpful.

    Great analysis. Thanks.

    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by NLinStPaul on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:46:43 PM PST

  •  My thoughts have been the same (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, elwior

    Shoulda trademarked it, except someone already thought about it in the 1780s.

    Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

    by jcrit on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:30:51 PM PST

  •  Good summary. I am a bit more skeptical (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, delver rootnose

    about how this will play out.

    If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

    by shigeru on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:41:29 PM PST

  •  I’ve done a little reading about the history (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, Gary Norton, elwior, MichaelNY

    …and by little, I mean not a lot.

    Nevertheless, I think the history of the debt limit is kind of interesting. It started around 1917, in World War I. Before that point, Congress made specific rules about debt instruments. So if they passed a law to buy weapons for the Civil War or build a new building or railroads (infrastructure) or the Panama Canal (extrastructure?), they’d pass a law telling the Treasury Dept. to issue bonds at a certain interest rate with a certain time limit (five years, 20 years, etc.). They were like a school board that says, “We’re gonna build a new high school that will cost this much and we’ll issue bonds (to pay for it now) and pay it off in 20 years, with a certain interest rate.”

    In effect, Congress was micro-managing the bonds.

    Then around 1917 (WWI), Congress said, we’ll let the Treasury Department issue bonds, but only up to a certain limit. That was the beginning of the debt limit. Later, in 1939 (WWII), they gave even more power to the Treasury Dept. to decide about interest rates and terms, but they still put a cap on the total indebtedness.

    I know this has nothing to do with the current kerfuffle, but I think it’s interesting.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:17:03 PM PST

  •  Whose Opinion Is That, Anyway? (0+ / 0-)
    No Court has held that the President has the power to issue a binding ruling that any law, such as the debt limit, is Unconstitutional. Rather the courts have held that such power resides in the Supreme Court.
    Why, that would be like the President deciding that he has the power to decide what's constitutional!

    In practical terms, they don't have any way to force him to follow the debt limit proclamation of Congress. It's just that Obama doesn't want to do anything that could be criticized. It would look bad.

    Frankly, I think he should just take enough spending out of the military budget to stop us from going over the debt limit. As Command In Chief he has the power to do that. He could have started shutting down the Pentagon in October and asked the Republicans in Congress to come up with increased revenue if they wanted to keep the doors open.

    But that would be open to criticism.

    So, in the end, my prediction is that he does whatever Congress wants him to do, which is equivalent to saying he'll do what the Tea Party wants.

    We should not waste time worrying about it and spend our time and money building the biggest progressive consensus we can for 2016.

  •  Thank you for this cogent analysis. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, Gary Norton

    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sets forth the budget details that necessitated Congress's raising the debt limit 7 times during Bush's presidency, from $5.9 trillion to $11.3 trillion.  Nearly 50% of this nearly doubling of the national debt from 2000 to 2008 is attributed to the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars.  The legacy of these fiscal policies continue to drive current deficits: CBPP estimates the Bush tax cuts and wars account for ~60% of the $5 trillion rise in national debt since 2008, and the impact of reduced tax revenues due to the linger effects of economic downturn account for ~30%.  
    Mitch McConnell is fond of insisting no new debt limit increases until we address the spending that got us to this level of deficit in the first place.  By all means lets continue to shine the light on the Bush fiscal legacy that brought us to this point, and hold Congress accountable for doing their job.

  •  In my opinion.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, shigeru

    ...there is nothing in your diary that supports this conclusion.

    This is actually the boldest step he could take it is also the step most likely to succeed because it is a pure political challenge involving the power of a President who is just been reelected against a very unpopular Congress. As such it is by far the most likely to succeed.
    And your diary totally ignores that the Republican don't give a shit.  About anything.  weather the Gov. shuts down or defaults of if they do something illigal.  In some Republican circles thay are praised when they say they will do these things to thwart the President.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:21:40 PM PST

    •  Not all Republicans "don't give a shit" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, MichaelNY

      Otherwise, we never would have had the vote at the end of last year, when Republicans finally stopped following the Hastert rule.  That's the thing:  Some of them finally blinked.

      "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

      by anonevent on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 10:05:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are a number of options. (0+ / 0-)

    I'd just mint the coin, if it was me, because it's legal, and it doesn't kick the can down the road -- it says the can was never there to begin with.  Any ensuing lawsuits would be fodder for late night comedians and water cooler jokes but otherwise not of grave importance.

    The other option, one I would consider, is this: Let the debt ceiling apocalypse come, and then JUDICIOUSLY PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH BILLS TO PAY AND WHICH ONES NOT TO.  On the basis that, hey, you can't pay them all so you have to choose somehow.  So, for instance, cut off all funding for the House of Representatives.  Not just the reps, but all their staff, the security, the utilities.  There are a number of vindictive things along this line that can be done to make life unpleasant first and foremost for the friends of the right.  And nobody would have sympathy for them when they bitched about it.  Of course, it wouldn't be long before their corporate CEO masters would be tweeting them with advice about all of this.

    But we'll see.  The deciding factor in all this, I think, is the no-drama bias of Obama, and his proven willingness to compromise on anything he has said he won't compromise on.  We can expect some last minute compromise that meets them half way.  And half the people here will praise him for being the last grown up in the room and the other half will just groan in disgust.

    •  The Problem With The "Choose The Bills" Option (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton that it may not be technically possible.  It's not going to be possible to rewrite all the automated Treasury bill-paying software in the next 2-4 weeks so if it's not already flexible enough to do that (and it's highly unlike;y that it is) then this isn't a practical option.

  •  Wow! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bontemps2012, Gary Norton

    We all have been properly schooled!  Kudos!

    I now remember much of this from my very excellent HS government class from ... let's just say "decades ago" without an exact number. My birthday's coming up this week and I'm a little sensitive to attaching a year (or 4) to my HS education.

    Thank you for nailing it, kind sir!

    "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." - David Frum

    by Glinda on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 12:29:56 AM PST

  •  Hope you're right. Hope the pres sticks to his (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton


    The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

    by helfenburg on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 03:19:16 AM PST

  •  Gary, I think you missed one factor. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    Here, analyzing the politics:

    This is actually the boldest step he could take it is also the step most likely to succeed because it is a pure political challenge involving the power of a President who is just been reelected against a very unpopular Congress. As such it is by far the most likely to succeed.
    I agree wholeheartedly. There is an additional factor, particularly significant in the House, that the Republican Party is split to two sub-caucuses. Look to the Fiscal Cliff breakout, the 2013 changes, and you see three pools of votes:

    -- Regular Democrats - 201 Members

    -- Business Republicans - 84 Members

    -- Birch Society Republicans - 150 Members

    We've stopped using the "Tea Party" tag.

    That was a populist movement for all of 6 months in 2009 before the Big Money steamrolled them. Freedom Works had taken over by the 2010 election cycle -- same money as the John Birch Society since 1959, same paranoid issue positions as the web site.

    The split of Bizzies and Birchers is an open wound. The Birchers started rolling up Bizzy seats in 1984-2000 and again in 2010. Now it's open warfare in the House.

    A coalition of Democrats and centerist Bizzies could move ahead, particularly if the understanding spread rapidly that the Far Right is mostly a collection of Birchers and birthers.

    This reverses four years of pro-democracy operations avoiding saying these extremists are Birchers. Obviously they are. Follow the (Koch) money. Read through their official statements -- same money, same results.

    "We have done nothing to be ashamed of. We have nothing to apologize for." NRA 12/14/2012

    by bontemps2012 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 04:10:21 AM PST

  •  Good analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    and reflects what the debate should be, not the silly coin debate.  I also agree that your conclusion that 31USC3101(b) probably takes precedence over the President's obligation to spend appropriated funds.  However, I do not think it is as clear cut as you make it.  One problem with your interpretation that comes to mind is that it might allow a President to reduce the amount of borrowing in order to avoid spending money which he is otherwise required to do.

    Lawyers often are called to defend a losing position.  I would be interested in seeing you or another Kossack tackle the other side of argument in which the appropriations law takes precedence over the debt limit.  

    Dedicated to recapturing the American Dream by changing the framework of the debate to focus on: Growth, Efficiency, Community, Sustainability and Economic Fairness. Improve constantly and drive out fear - Dr. W. Edwards Deming

    by Paradigm Change on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 08:45:47 AM PST

    •  No he can't reduce borrowing within the limit. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Two things come into play: Treasuries statutory obligation to borrow to fund operations and the prohibition agains not spending (impoundment) when funds are in the Treasury. Both the Supreme Court and the subsequently enacted 1974 Budget Act speak to that.

      You may hear a different view on this or something else in this article from Armando later today, according to him.

      Further, affiant sayeth not.

      by Gary Norton on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 09:40:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  note the bold (0+ / 0-)
    31 USC 3101(b) The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter and the face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) may not be more than $14,294,000,000,000, outstanding at one time, . . . .
    The Social Security Trust Fund obligations could be stored in the office of The Secretary of the Treasury.

    There is also the possibility of issuing unguaranteed debt.

    The banks that would like to have guaranteed debt could store the otherwise unguaranteed US government debt in his office.

  •  guarantee of the principal amount alone (0+ / 0-)
    31 USC 3101(b) The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter and the face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) may not be more than $14,294,000,000,000, outstanding at one time, . . . .
    The principal and all but one cent of the interest could also be guaranteed.
  •  Democratic states could (0+ / 0-)

    raise taxes in their states and pay for stuff the federal government no longer can.

    There is also the possibility of business privilege taxation.

    If enough Democratic states are firm enough, a nationally effective taxing superstructure could be put into place.

    State Law 2013-X

    Each corporation or other entity desiring to do business in this state shall pay a federal financing surtax on income as specified in the multi-state plan printed in the Congressional Record on behalf of Harry Reid and shall impose this taxation requirement on its employees and its suppliers and their employees promptly and ASAP who shall likewise impose the taxation requirement and collect and remit the tax to the multi-state US Treasury rescue fund.

    This law shall take effect when passed by states having at least 100 million persons combined.  

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