Former President Bill Clinton said that if he were in President Obama’s shoes, he would bypass Congress on the debt and invoke the 14th Amendment “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.”
“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,” he told National Memo’s Joe Conason.
But the former President said he didn’t believe it would come to that, according to an article at Politico.
According to Clinton, raising the debt ceiling is necessary to pay the nation’s debts.
Jennifer Epstein wrote:
Clinton said that raising the debt ceiling “is necessary to pay for appropriations already made.” Congressional Republicans, he said, “can’t say, ‘Well, we won the last election and we didn’t vote for some of that stuff, so we’re going to throw the whole country’s credit into arrears.”
But a post at the American Spectator takes issue with Clinton’s reasoning:
This echoes a view from the New Republic which patly suggests that once Congress decides to spend the money, the president’s duty is merely to borrow.
Not really. The 14th Amendment doesn’t call for Congress to borrow whenever it needs money. It simply instructs Congress to pay for what it spends. Meaning it can choose to cut spending, raise taxes, or print more currency. Arguing as Clinton does would also license the president to print more currency in order to pay the bills, effectively running down the value of the dollar.
It’s like saying that once you’ve maxed out all your credit cards, you have no choice but to transfer the balance to a new credit card.
President Obama has avoided discussion on the 14th Amendment, but Timothy Geithner, his Treasury Secretary, has implied its use to spur Congress into action.
An article at The Blaze notes that while some have said Geithner clearly advocated the so-called 14th Amendment option, lawyers for the Treasury Department say otherwise:
Responding to a New York Times op-ed, the Treasury Department wrote:
Secretary Geithner has never argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the President to disregard the statutory debt limit.
If Obama does try to use the 14th Amendment to bypass Congress, however, he may be opening himself to a fight he really does not want to have right before an election.
In early July, conservative talk show host Mark Levin said the President should be impeached if he used the option:
If Barack Obama attempts to destroy the Separation of Powers doctrine, if he intends to seize Congressional power when it comes to borrowing and spending despite the plain wording of Article 1 Section 8 Clause 2. In other words if he’s going to violate his oath of office…then he needs to be impeached.
That sentiment was echoed by Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) at a town hall meeting:
While speaking at a Tea Party event in Charleston, SC, Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) said that if President Obama tries to bypass Congress to borrow beyond the debt limit, he would consider it an “impeachable act.”
Scott said it would be “catastrophic” if the President tried to “usurp the entire system set up by our Founding Fathers over something this significant.”
The President does have one other option – instead of telling the country to “eat your peas,” he can work with Republicans who are voting to pass a measure to “cut, cap and balance” the federal budget.
It’s long past time for Obama to put on his “big boy pants,” man up, and get the job done.
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