Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks it is an interesting question: can the administration “continue issuing new debt even if Congress fail to raise the debt limit?” Apparently, end runs around Congress are now considered administration policy, especially if the debt ceiling, itself, can be declared unconstitutional, not that anyone in the regime gives a fig about the Constitution.
It’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Washington that the only occasions on which the United States Constitution is invoked with any reverence by the political establishment is when it appears to support the expansion of federal power. The topic du jour in the capital is the 14th Amendment, and whether it authorizes President Obama, in effect, to ignore the congressionally-imposed debt ceiling and instruct the Treasury to issue new debt to pay for old.
Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment assures the purchasers of U.S. public debt that repayment will be honored, and that assurance is being considered as proof that we can, and will, simply raise our debt limit to honor those repayments, even if Congress fails to act to raise the ceiling.
Neglected from this argument is any suggestion that the president and his supporters are under any obligation to, say, make deep and meaningful cuts in federal spending to accomplish the same end. Such an option — that Washington voluntarily relinquish any portion of its illegitimate power — is not to be broached.
The same Section 4 asserts that we will pay no costs incurred in planning an insurrection or rebellion against us. Many of us see the regime’s reckless spending, reckless warring, reckless class warfare, reckless governing by fiat and reckless and lawless Department of Justice as an insurrection, and certainly a rebellion against the historic principles that made our country great.
And yet, if he did pull something like declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional, he’d be seizing control of the country’s apocalyptic debt problem for the purpose of running up more debt. I doubt it would even accomplish what he wanted it to accomplish: If the goal here is to reassure creditors that the U.S. will never default on its obligations in order to avert a market panic and skyrocketing interest rates, how exactly would a power grab involving an utterly novel constitutional theory achieve that? Does a bitter court battle, with the legality of payments issued on Obama’s unilateral order hanging in the balance, sound like a smart way to put investors at ease?
This assumes we would default on debt, in the event the debt ceiling is not raised. One day after the date of August 2, 2011 – the day the sky actually falls:
Federal Government Operations: For Aug. 3-31, 2011, we project inflows of $172 billion and bills due of $306 billion — a shortfall of $134 billion. As an illustration, Treasury would exhaust all inflows just by paying six major items: interest, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance and defense vendors. Without cutting from these six, there would be no money for entire departments such as Justice, Labor and Commerce among many others, or for veterans’ benefits, IRS refunds, military active duty pay, federal salaries and benefits, special education, Pell Grants for college students or food and rent payments for the poor. An overnight 44 percent cut in spending would slash many popular and essential programs.
Particular August days will be far worse than the monthly totals suggest. For example, on Aug. 3, we project that the government will have about $12 billion in receipts and $32 billion in committed payments, including a $23 billion Social Security payment. And Aug. 15 presents a triple threat: a $19 billion daily deficit, a $29 billion interest payment and a quarterly refunding auction to pay off a maturing $27 billion bond.
As Scaliger points out in the article linked above, only the House can make laws incurring expense, and payment by the U.S. Treasury. It would follow that Congress must find a way to make payment a reality by reducing existing debt, rather than playing around constitutional caveats.
The sooner Congress treats the Executive Branch actions as an insurrection, the sooner these United States return to the country our Founders envisioned. Thanks to Frugal Cafe for the graphic.