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Is the Debt Ceiling Unconstitutional?

Babe_Ruth

Sultan of Swat
Staff member
V.I.P.
Growing increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for a deal that would raise the debt ceiling, Democratic senators are revisiting a solution to the crisis that rests on a simple proposition: The debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional.

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

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

By declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional, the White House could continue to meet its financial obligations, leaving Tea Party-backed Republicans in the difficult position of arguing against the plain wording of the Constitution. Bipartisan negotiators are debating the size of the cuts, now in the trillions, that will come along with raising the debt ceiling.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that the constitutional solution puts the question in its proper context -- that the debate is over paying past debts, not over future spending.

"The way everybody talks about this is that we need to raise the debt ceiling. What we're really saying is, 'We have to pay our bills,'" Murray said. The 14th Amendment approach is "fascinating," she added.

The White House referred questions on the constitutionality of the debt ceiling to the Treasury Department. Treasury declined to comment.
14th Amendment: Democratic Senators See Debt Ceiling As Unconstitutional

Possible Obama speech:

The Speech Obama Could Give: 'The Constitution Forbids Default' - Garrett Epps - Politics - The Atlantic

What are your thoughts on this? Would you be for it or against it?
 

MenInTights

not a plastic bag
The House has a weapon they will use that the author did not mention. They can pass temporary debt increases until the matter is settled. They can raise the ceiling enough to fund the government for another 2 weeks and they can do this until a deal is reached. If Obama refuses to sign the temporary extension, then he and the Democrat Senators that block it are the ones that will have declared Obama the autocrat and they will have to deal that. Using the 14th Amendment excuse when negotiations are still going on will be a disaster.
 

Mirage

Secret Agent
Staff member
V.I.P.
This is why running a successful business should be mandatory for all presidential and high office candidates. Instead we get people who think that being in debt at all is an acceptable option. In the real world this is called going out of business. No investor with even half a brain would invest in a company that operates as poorly as the US government. Might as well just drop your money through a shredder. Taxpayers are fed up with watching their hard earned money go to waste.

My guess is that anybody in favor of raising the debt ceiling is either A) not a taxpayer, or B) in politics and trying to appeal to non-taxpayers.
 

Tucker

Lion Rampant
We can all give our thoughts, but in the end, the International Monetary Fund knows infinitely more about the debt ceiling than any of us ever will. House Republicans need to wake up and smell the coffee, because the IMF says this:

Reuters said:
Failure by U.S. lawmakers to agree soon on a deal to raise the government's borrowing limit could deliver a "severe shock" to a still fragile recovery and global markets, the International Monetary Fund warned on Wednesday.

In an annual review of U.S. economic conditions, the IMF said the key challenge the country faces is finding a way to stabilize its debts by mid-decade without derailing growth, which is likely to remain modest for some time.

"And of course, the federal debt ceiling should be raised expeditiously to avoid a severe shock to the economy and world financial markets," the IMF said in a statement.

The U.S. Treasury already has hit the existing $14.3 trillion legal limit on the nation's debt and has warned the debt ceiling needs to be raised by August 2 to avoid a default on the nation's obligations.

The IMF said a failure to raise the ceiling in time could lead to a downgrade in the United States' coveted AAA debt rating and send interest rates soaring.
"These risks would also have significant global repercussions, given the central role of U.S. Treasury bonds in world financial markets," it said.

The Obama administration and Congress are locked in tense negotiations to try to reach a deal on budget cuts that would give lawmakers political cover to raise the debt ceiling.
 

Tucker

Lion Rampant
It's like Wonderland in the Hizzy of Representizzy, where members believe that dire warnings by the Treasury and the IMF that the debt ceiling MUST be raised can simply be ignored. In big, bold letters they're telling us that we raise the ceiling now or we lose our AAA borrowing rating. Do you guys understand why interest rates would, without doubt, soar catastrophically across the board in that scenario, and will you be happy if Republican obstructionism causes that to occur?
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
I don't know who died and made the IMF the end all when it comes to the advice they give. They've certainly be wrong before and it's certainly possible they are wrong now. I've never known a scenario that is without a doubt when it comes to economic policy, certainly one could make pretty educated guesses though. My educated guess is interest rates would not soar if the debt ceiling is not raised, and I haven't seen any clear and credible evidence to dispute that.

As far as the Constitutionality question, no, it's not unconstitutional.
 

Tucker

Lion Rampant
I don't know who died and made the IMF the end all when it comes to the advice they give.
The IMF is an organization with nearly 200 member nations, headquartered in Washington, D.C., whose function it is to oversee the entire global financial system. Who, if not IMF, would your end-all be?

As far as the Constitutionality question, no, it's not unconstitutional.
Oh, I'm sure it is. President Obama is a former professor of constitutional law and he doesn't embark on frivolous pursuits.
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
The IMF is an organization with nearly 200 member nations, headquartered in Washington, D.C., whose function it is to oversee the entire global financial system. Who, if not IMF, would your end-all be?
There is none. As pointed out, they've been wrong before.

Is that it? Because of who they are is evidence that they're right?

Oh, I'm sure it is. President Obama is a former professor of constitutional law and he doesn't embark on frivolous pursuits.
Let me clear this up once and for all.

1) President Obama taught first year Constitutional law. All he had to do is teach enough Con law so those taking the bar exam can pass the multistate bar exam. It's basic Con Law 101. Let's not pretend he was a Lawrence Tribe, or an Alan Dershowitz, or an Edwin Chemirinsky. He didn't write any amicus curie briefs, he never argued before the United States Supreme Court, and has never been a judge or a Justice. Anyone with a law degree can teach 1st year Con law. There's nothing difficult about it at all. He's no legal scholar and to classify him as such is erroneous.

2) Being wrong on a Constitutional issue doesn't mean you embark on frivilous lawsuits. In every single issue brought before the United States Supreme Court there is a winner, and there is a loser. That doesn't mean the loser was embarking in a frivilous lawsuit. Just because Obama is on one side that doesn't mean he is right, and the other side is being frivilous.

3) He's wrong when it comes to the Constitutionality of the ACA and those who feel that way shouldn't be labeled as obstructionists. He's been wrong before, and he can be wrong again. This deference that some give this man, that somehow everything he does is right and perfect, is very disconcerting.

4) It should be pointed out, most professorships at law schools has more to do with who you know than anything you've done. Case in point, Obama had never even practiced Constitutional law when he went to teach.
 
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Swiftstrike

Registered Member
This is why running a successful business should be mandatory for all presidential and high office candidates. Instead we get people who think that being in debt at all is an acceptable option. In the real world this is called going out of business. No investor with even half a brain would invest in a company that operates as poorly as the US government. Might as well just drop your money through a shredder. Taxpayers are fed up with watching their hard earned money go to waste.

My guess is that anybody in favor of raising the debt ceiling is either A) not a taxpayer, or B) in politics and trying to appeal to non-taxpayers.
Also CO I too also think the IMF policies have been incorrect in the past (the World Bank has a better track record) the Asian crisis is a fine example of that. However, a lot of IMF policies are shaped by the U.S. (The Washington Consensus and Shock Therapy).

The dilemma here is that state's cannot fluidly operate like a business due to the nature of public goods. How do you accurately measure a profit equivalent for the state? GDP? GNP? I am not saying economists don't try to quantify state revenue, but business operations don't have to deal with many issues such as collective action problems, information asymmetry (principal agent dilemma), and budget maximization. I prefer rational choice theory but state's don't simply default and go out of business fluidly like the market dictates. State failure is a much more excruciating process than simply defaulting on debt. Would a track record as a business man improve the economic for the country? With the nature of domestic politics, international economy, and government operation I highly doubt it.


I think the state should incorporate some business practices, they are useful, but which ones?

There are aspects that can be imitated by the states but political scientists have been debating the dichotomy between the two for decades.
 

Tucker

Lion Rampant
President Obama taught first year Constitutional law. All he had to do is teach enough Con law so those taking the bar exam can pass the multistate bar exam. It's basic Con Law 101. Let's not pretend he was a Lawrence Tribe, or an Alan Dershowitz, or an Edwin Chemirinsky. He didn't write any amicus curie briefs, he never argued before the United States Supreme Court, and has never been a judge or a Justice. Anyone with a law degree can teach 1st year Con law. There's nothing difficult about it at all. He's no legal scholar and to classify him as such is erroneous.
He is, according to the University of Chicago's Law School, where he served as professor of constitutional law (which is what I said) for twelve years. Obama was invited several times to join the faculty of that prestigious institution in a full-time position, but declined. I have no doubt that any Republican with the President's enviable credentials would be a legal scholar in the eyes of the anti-Obama set.

Did somebody mention Bernanke's position on the debt ceiling? Here it be: Bernanke: Debt limit hike is not optional - TheHill.com
 
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