Obama and the Debt Ceiling

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Jonathon Moseley @ American Thinker:

The debt ceiling is the last leverage that Republicans have to prevent out-of-control Federal spending and on various policy issues. Liberals know this: even as Senate Democrats talk of ending the right of Republicans to filibuster, liberals are seeking to defang the Republican House of Representatives as well. They are also now peddling a new theme that the debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional under Section 4 of the 14th Amendment. Therefore, President Obama may simply ignore the debt ceiling.

The looming debt ceiling fight could allow Republicans to soundly defeat Obama’s overspending. In the “fiscal cliff” deal, Republicans succeeded by making most of the temporary Bush tax cuts permanent, but failed to get spending cuts. Yet now, Republicans could use the debt ceiling vote to slash spending. The overall result could be serious deficit reduction at lower permanent tax rates. But this requires Republicans to stand united and refuse to raise the debt ceiling.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment requires: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned.” Liberals argue that if Congress has authorized spending, this automatically gives the president the power and even the obligation to borrow whatever it takes to spend all the money for which Congress voted. When Congress votes to spend money, this includes the obligation of the chief executive to take whatever actions are necessary to pay the debts of the United States Government. That is because “the validity of the public debt” … “shall not be questioned.” Thus, any debt ceiling law violates Section 4, they argue.

Suddenly the appeal for Washington to abandon the U.S. Constitution from Georgetown Law Professor Louis Michael Seidman in the New York Times makes sense. Seidman’s pitch on December 30 that the Constitution is obsolete and unnecessary is not likely to be accepted in full. But Seidman argues that it is more important to do whatever is convenient for the moment than to be bound by the U.S. Constitution. To the liberal elites and the low-information voters, this helps prepare the debate for Obama ignoring the law “to get things done.”

Barack Obama appears to have landed on this theory with both feet. On January 1, 2013, President Obama commented:

“Let me repeat, you can’t not pay bills that we have already incurred. If Congress refuses to the United States government the ability to pay these bills on-time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic-far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff.”


“I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills, they have already racked up through the laws they have passed.”

Republicans need to be ready with a response. Like all liberal views of the Constitution, the theory seems to make sense at first, but after a little thought is revealed to be preposterous. But Obama could build up the momentum to get away with it unless Republicans act swiftly to expose the scheme.

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Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

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