No New Taxes!
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, said Thursday that he was quitting the debt ceiling negotiations being led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. because of an impasse over the role of taxes in any final deal. “I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order,” Mr. Cantor said in a prepared statement. “That said, each side came into these talks with certain orders, and as it stands the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases. There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation. Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue.”
Let the caving begin! Actually, the President has a pretty strong legal argument that he actually does not need the debt ceiling raised. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides:
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.
Even according to right wing lawyers Rivkin and Casey, this means:
unlike most other sovereign states, the U.S. constitutionally cannot default on its financial obligations. In particular, it must continue to make payments, interest and principal, on its bonds, effectively requiring Congress to provide sufficient authority for that purpose.
Indeed, these two GOP lawyers urged the GOP House to:
Consistent with its obligations under Section Four, Congress should promptly increase the debt ceiling, but with one key caveat: The increase can be used only for borrowing to service existing obligations. By anchoring this action in a specific constitutional obligation, Congress would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the Obama administration to oppose this resolution of the debt-ceiling battle. At the same time, Congress should reclaim immediate control of the issuance of all other new debt obligations.
I'm all for that as well. Let Congress assert its authority over ALL matters. Of course this is no good for the GOP, as they have already appropriated spending for the fiscal year.
But even if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the President, it seems to me, has a much more plausible case for saying he has the right to insure that this Constitutional provision is not violated than he does for, say, the Libya action.
And this legal creativity would actually serve the national interest.
Speaking for me only
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