Jay Carney: We Will Take Action: 14th Amendment Allows Creating New Debt?

Sounds like Barack Obama will take charge action if the debt ceiling is not increased by Congress. In this video, is Carney talking about the 14th Amendment? Undoubtedly, and through Carney, the White House is getting us ready for it. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4 provides for paying debt, but does it provide for creating new debt and paying for it? Surely some of the money newly authorized to borrow will be spent on yet unauthorized spending – wouldn’t you think?

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) backs the president taking action. There is a growing coalition of Democrats urging Obama to bypass Congress. Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) says Obama can raise the debt limit through an Executive Order. President Harry Truman seized the nation’s steel mills and lost the case in court, although he had the mills for a time, and accomplished what he set out to do. The seizure was done under the 14th Amendment. As you see below in Section 5, a good case can be made that only Congress can authorize action under the Amendment, and certainly, only Congress can authorize the spending of taxpayer monies.

Fourteenth 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.

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 5:

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Today’s THV:

But can he legally do that?

“There is some historical precedent, if not legal precedent, for presidents to take extraordinary measures in order to protect the country from a very serious harm.”

For example, President Harry Truman took “extraordinary measures” by nationalizing the U.S. steel mills at the start of the Korean War to avert a strike.

“People claimed that this was unconstitutional and you couldn’t do that. And [Truman] eventually lost the case. But in the interim, he prevented the strike and eventually the parties negotiated a labor agreement,” DiPippa said.

Then there is this question: is the debt ceiling constitutional?

Article 1 – The Legislative Branch, Section 8 – Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises , to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

National Review:

The 14th Amendment doesn’t affect this power one bit. It applies only to debt “authorized by law,” and as Catholic University Law School distinguished scholar John S. Baker wrote recently in NRO, “Only Congress — not the president — makes law.”

A ‘president’ is not a congress.

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Jay Carney on Obama’ taking action’


Graphic courtesy of The Anchoress