Bill Clinton 14th Amendment – Appropriations – Authorizations? Reality Flashback

Former President Bill Clinton says if the debt limit is not raised, were he President, he would invoke the Fourteenth Amendment granting authority to maintain the good credit of the United States. “I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” he said. FLASHBACK: Remember Senator Jim Inhofe saying legislation is often appropriated without being authorized? That’s the cart rolling before the prancing pony. How much spending was never authorized? Entitlements are authorized and appropriated, and then needn’t be appropriated thereafter. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provides the path to how things get paid in the event of a government shutdown. There is guidance and precedent to make that decision. In the meantime, we might ask ourselves: if the debt limit is raised, just how much will it be raised? $2.4TRILLION? The Stimulus alone added $3.5TRILLION in debt.


Irony: if the debt limit is raised without significant spending cuts, the U.S. has no “good credit.”

14th Amendment – Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.


[Clinton] “I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton said in an interview with journalist Joe Conason published by The National Memo.

[Politico – Jennifer Epstein] But a lawyer for the Treasury Department has publicly refuted that interpretation, saying that Secretary Timothy Geithner has “never argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the president to disregard the statutory debt limit.”

While I have no expertise in what is appropriated and what is not, Senator Jim Inhofe has said Senators take to the Senate floor seeking appropriation for their spending bills without the ‘authorization’ to do so. The ‘authorization’ process must come first, before any funds are appropriated.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress 2008:

While the power over appropriations is granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution, the authorization appropriation process is derived from House and Senate rules. The formal process consists of two sequential steps: (1) enactment of an authorization measure that may create or continue an agency or program as well as authorize the subsequent enactment of appropriations; and (2) enactment of appropriations to provide funds for the authorized agency or program. For more information on the budget process, see the CRS Guides to Congressional Processes [].

So, what is Clinton talking about? Can he guarantee us the spending Obama seeks to pay with the debt ceiling increase has been authorized before it was appropriated?

Bill Clinton

Let’s do some more flashbacks on why the debt ceiling sits beyond critical mass.

1) About the spending blamed on the Bush administration. There was the September 11th, 2001 attacks and the wars that followed. Then came the $700 BILLION TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). Inhofe has something to say about that as well. According to him, Congress was threatened with martial law by Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, who said there would be civil unrest if TARP was not passed. Inhofe refused to vote for the Stimulus, which he called “the insanity of giving $700BILLION to one man.”

Pat Campbell Tulsa Talk Radio 1170 and Inhofe (video transcript):

[Campbell] Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the Depression. There were people that were talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest…

[Inhofe] That’s Henry Paulson. On Saturday we had a conference call, early on, on a Friday I think, a week and a half on October 1st, so it would have been the middle…the 19th of September, we had the conference call. In this conference call, I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, he painted this picture you just described. He said this is serious. This is the most serious thing we’ve faced. Far worse than the Great Depression of the ’30s, and all these things…he was very descriptive about exactly what would happen, if…IF we didn’t buy out these toxic assets – which he abandoned the day after he got the money. 

The final [TARP] legislation was in the form of House Resolution 1424, which GovTrack says became “Public Law No: 110-343.”

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary [Paulson] pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

As we head into the 2012 elections, we must not forget that Paulson took money to buy out the septic assets of mortgage-backed investments, and then did not do so. AND there was nothing the American people can do about it.


Jim Inhofe on Martial Law and Insanity (video)

2) The Stimulus – more from Inhofe (video transcript)

Sadly, America just embarked on an unprecedented slide toward the failed model of the stagnant Western European Socialist Welfare state. The lost wealth creation, lost jobs, crushed innovations and quite simply the encroachment of economic freedoms contained in this bill [Stimulus] mark one of the most ghastly turning points in U.S. economic history.

This day and this vote will long live as the day America turned it’s back on the reliance on free men and free markets.

Today the Democrats voted to pass the largest spending bill in the history of the world. In the few short hours that the massive spending bill had been posted on line for the public to review, we have already discovered a multitude of outlandish provisions in this legislation. Just imagine, if we had just a little more time how much more we could expose.

The Democrats in Congress are anxious to pass this bill before the American public really finds out exactly what’s in it. The House just did and zero Republicans voted for it. Six Democrats joined with the opposition and voted against it.

Our ground troops are hard at work. I want to thank all of you from the Heritage Foundation, to Talk Radio leaders to bloggers to the thousands of conservative activists pouring through every square inch of this bill to expose just a few of the ridiculous items in this bill.

Here are some of the more outrageous items included in this massive spending bill:

This bill provides more than $1 BILLION to create a new layer of bureaucracy within the Department of Health and Human Services, laying the groundwork for Hillary health care which can lead to the rationing of health care to Americans in the future. Next, there is a provision within the Stimulus package which prohibits colleges and universities, with a religious mission, those that allow faith-based student groups, or those who rent their facilities for worship services from receiving federal funding for building rennovations or repairs. This is clearly discrimination and a violation of our religious liberties and could lead to costly litigation for these institutions.

On tax cuts the news doesn’t get any better. The bill went into Conference with 35% in tax cuts and 65% spending. It’s coming out with 27% tax cuts and 73% spending.

The tax relief measure amounts to $8 in addition[al] take-home pay per week, or a little over $1 a day. This bill will contribute a $3.5TRILLION expansion of the federal government debt in 2009 – 2010, a staggering $30,000 in new debt per household dumped into the laps of our children and grandchildren.

So there you have it. But remember 1992. The Democrats controlled everything: the White House, the House, the Senate, and what happened, spending sky-rocketed…Hillary health care…you remember. But also remember what happened in 1994, and you know, history does have a way of repeating itself.

The Contract with American happened in 1994, promising a balanced budget amendment among other things. The balanced budget amendment passed the House but not the Senate. The consolation prize was a presidential line-item veto. That veto was later judged to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote:

…the court held that the line-item veto law violates a constitutional requirement that legislation be passed by both houses of Congress and presented in its entirety to the president for signature or veto.

Today we know, courtesy of Obama’s own economists, that Stimulus funds we were promised would ‘stimulate’ the economy, instead cost taxpayers $278,000 per job “created or saved.” The ‘saved’ jobs were described as the teachers, firemen, police and city hall workers that would have been laid off had the Stimulus funds not come their way. Oh but then…the money ran out and teachers, firefighters, police and city hall say the staved-off layoffs have either already happened, or will soon.

Furthermore, the council reports that, as of two quarters ago, the “stimulus” had added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs — or 288,000 more than it has now.  In other words, over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. In comparison to how things would otherwise have been, the “stimulus” has been working in reverse over the past six months, causing the economy to shed jobs. Source: Weekly Standard

Jim Inhofe on the Obama Stimulus (video)

A historic flood of red ink February 28, 2011:

In actual dollars, President Obama’s $4.4 trillion in deficit spending in just three years is 37 percent higher than the previous record of $3.2 trillion (held by President George W. Bush) in deficit spending for an entire presidency. It’s no small feat to demolish an 8-year record in just 3 years…

At the end of 2008, just before President Obama took office, the national debt was $9.986 trillion and 69 percent of GDP. Under his projections, eight years later it will be $20.825 trillion and 104 percent of GDP. That’s right: Our debt will soon exceed our national economic output for an entire year. And that’s even if you believe the president’s rosy projections of 4 percent real GDP growth over the next four years, considerably higher than the 2.7 percent achieved over the past quarter-century and the 3.2 percent over the past half-century.

Obama has proposed three straight budgets calling for over $1TRILLION in spending…something no other president has ever done. Obama’s three year spending binge is 37% higher than G. W. Bush’s entire 8 years of spending – including the expense of 9/11/01 and the war spending through 2008.

Add it all up and Bill Clinton is a bloated bloviator, ignoring reality, grabbing the lime light, and claiming constitutionality on an issue of debt that even the Secretary of Treasury hasn’t claimed.