GOP: How To Stop Worrying and Love Government Default

It's that time of year again, what to do in the face of Republican threats to push the country into default! Oh, and this time, Republicans have a primer on How To Stop Worrying And Love Default:

Q: [T]he Treasury Department came out with [a report] that said that if the US does not raise the debt ceiling in time that there would be a catastrophic effect on the economy[.]

[Sen. RON JOHNSON (Tea Party Republican Wiscosin]: I think that’s – I think that’s highly irresponsible for the Treasury Department to be issuing those kinds of, I mean scare-mongering reports. The Treasury Department, I think the Secretary of the Treasury, I think the President of the United States ought to be trying to calm the markets, rather than scare them. The President really ought to be leading here. [. . .] There is absolutely no reason at all for this type of government to default even if we don’t increase the debt ceiling. So I think it’s highly irresponsible of this Administration to be doing the type of scare-mongering they’re doing on this issue.

Wall Street is sanguine and thinks the absurdities of Ron Johnson and Ted Yoho do not matter, but I think they may be wrong, and I worry that President Obama is not setting the stage for the actions he may have to take in response.

The issues are practical, default would be catastrophic for the nation, and constitutional, the 14th Amendment prohibits federal government default. But the President's men have taken the unusual (and imo, wrong) position that his hands are tied. I'l explain why they are wrong on the flip.

Last December I wrote a post titled Public debt of the United States shall not be questioned: the 14th Amendment and the debt ceiling (also More on . . .) I argued the Obama Administration was wrong to state it "does not believe that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows the president to ignore the debt ceiling[.] Carney's comments dismissed the possibility that President Barack Obama could have a constitutional option to get around Congress if lawmakers failed to do so." -Reuters I argued that the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution provides:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense 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; [...] To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures; [...] [Emphasis supplied.]
Article 1 makes clear that it is the Congress that is empowered to "borrow money" and "pay the debts" of the United States. But of course, it is the Executive Branch, through the Treasury Department, that actually executes these functions. Nonetheless, Article 1 makes clear it is the Congress who is empowered to authorize such actions. But this does not end the Constitutional analysis. In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. While the most famous parts of the amendment are well known (the equal protection and due process clauses of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment), Section 4 of the amendment also provided for a constitutional guarantee of the payment of the debt of the United States:
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. [...]
Thus, while Congress has the power to borrow and pay the debt of the United States, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment imposes on the entire government of the United States the obligation to pay debt authorized by law. In the 1935 case Perry v. United States (in dicta to be sure), the Supreme Court stated:
The Fourteenth Amendment, in its fourth section, explicitly declares: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, . . . shall not be questioned." While this provision was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the Government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation. We regard it as confirmatory of a fundamental principle, which applies as well to the government bonds in question, and to others duly authorized by the Congress, as to those issued before the Amendment was adopted. Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression "the validity of the public debt" as embracing whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.
This raises two questions in the current situation regarding the debt ceiling:(1) can the statutory debt ceiling trump the constitutional requirement that US debt be paid? The answer is obvious, no. The constitution is supreme to all legislative enactments. The second question is is the debt ceiling, on its face, unconstitutional? I would argue no because the existence of a debt ceiling does not, in and of itself, put into question the validity of US debt. However, as applied in the current circumstances, the debt ceiling does appear to be unconstitutional (a quasi "as applied" analysis you might say). So what if anything can the President do about this? First, let's consider what he is obligated to do under the Constitution. Article II defines the powers and responsibilities of the President. Beyond vesting the executive power in the President, Article II expressly provides that the President "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The President's duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed applies both to the Constitution and duly enacted legislation of the Congress. The Congress has enacted legislation that will likely be in conflict shortly—the debt ceiling and appropriations that will cause the United States to exceed the debt ceiling. The spending authorizations postdate the debt ceiling enactment. What leeway if any, does the President have with regard to choosing what laws to "faithfully execute" here? In the normal course, the President would have a great deal of flexibility when faced with conflicting legislative directives. However, whether the President wishes to respect the debt ceiling is not the deciding question on this discrete point: the President does not have, in normal circumstances the power to borrow on behalf of the United States. The Constitution provides that power to the Congress. Thus, looking solely at this discrete issue, the President does not have the practical power to ignore the debt ceiling because he does not have the power to borrow on behalf of the United States. But what of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment? Doesn't the President have a duty to "faithfully execute" its provisions? Indeed he does. And, should the debt ceiling violate the 14th Amendment, it is my view that the President would have the duty to abide by Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, even if that requires violating the debt ceiling. And if that requires borrowing on behalf of the United States, it is my view that Section 4 of the 14th Amendment would so empower the President. However, such duty would only arise when the validity of US debt is imperiled, to wit, when it is time to make debt service payments. And before the President could invoke this 14th Amendment power, he would have to, at least in my opinion, exhaust other remedies, including NOT "faithfully executing" the spending appropriations enacted by Congress, and instead insuring that US debt is timely serviced. But the Obama Administration has said, and there is support for their statements, it does not possess the power to prioritize payments:

Morgan Stanley recently published an FAQ on the debt ceiling, and this was the first question.

In the Event Congress Fails to Raise the Debt Ceiling, Is the Treasury Allowed to Prioritize Its Obligations?

Bottom Line : No, there is no legal basis for the Treasury to prioritize payments. As noted in our previous report, if the debt ceiling is not raised before October 17th, the Treasury will have approximately $30 billion left in the coffers to fulfill its obligations.

If this is the case, then on or around October 17, 2013, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment will be violated. And the President can do nothing about this? I disagree. Last year I wrote: Practically speaking, many commenters have rightly noted that issuing new debt on the President's 14th Amendment authority would likely be costly, if there is a market at all. It surely is not the first option. The first option is a rolling government shutdown. (Indeed, this would have to occur in my view before the President could contemplate issuing new debt on his own authority, invoking the 14th Amendment.) [And has already happened in the present crisis.] The interesting part of that path is that, in my view, the President will be free to prioritize as he sees fit what parts of the government get shut down first. For example, the President could suspend certain Pentagon projects that Congress wants but that the Pentagon says it does not need. It also would basically void the sequestration requirements of the budget deal of August 2011 (requirements the President has basically been ignoring, to no protest from anybody). Congress could not protest that the law was not being followed as they failed to permit the issuance of new debt that is necessary to enact their spending appropriation measures. It's not apparent to me that anyone would have standing to challenge the President's de facto line item veto in such a case. While the Supreme Court has ruled that the line item veto is unconstitutional, I'm not sure how they could get at this scenario. In Clinton v. New York, the Court ruled the City of New York had standing to challenge the Congressional grant of a line item veto:

They invoked the District Court’s jurisdiction under a section entitled “Expedited Review,” which, among other things, expressly authorizes “any individual adversely affected” to bring a constitutional challenge. §692(a)(1).
No such grant of standing is available here. As Lawrence Tribe noted in 2011, there is no "plausible point of entry" for the courts here. On the legal claim itself, the Court stated:
the presidential actions at issue have amended two Acts of Congress by repealing a portion of each. Statutory repeals must conform with Art. I, INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 954, but there is no constitutional authorization for the President to amend or repeal. Under the Presentment Clause, after a bill has passed both Houses, but “before it become[s] a Law,” it must be presented to the President, who “shall sign it” if he approves it, but “return it,” i.e., “veto” it, if he does not.
Obviously, the exigencies the President will have to engage in should there be a debt ceiling forced government shutdown, on its face, violates the Presentment Clause. The question is what does the Constitution require in this case? After all, at that point in this hypothetical, the validity of the public debt is probably on shaky ground as well. Could the President, in an effort to avoid violations of the Presentment Clause and Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, argue that he is constitutionally empowered to issue new debt? I think he could. But in the meantime, the President would have the discretion to direct available spending as he deems best. [. . .] And if March 2013 rolls around and there is no resolution of the debt ceiling issue, the President may be forced to act. No reason to take that option off the table." Indeed, October 2013 has rolled around and these options need to be on the table. In yesterday's New York Times, Sean Wilentz wrote:
[A]rguing that the president lacks authority under the amendment to halt a default does not mean the executive lacks any authority in the matter. As Abraham Lincoln well knew, the executive, in times of national crisis, can invoke emergency powers to protect the Constitution. Should House Republicans actually precipitate a default and, as expected, financial markets quickly begin to melt down, an emergency would inarguably exist. In all, the Constitution provides for a two-step solution. First, the president can point out the simple fact that the House Republicans are threatening to act in violation of the Constitution, which would expose the true character of their assault on the government. Second, he could pledge that, if worse came to worst, he would, once a default occurred, use his emergency powers to end it and save the nation and the world from catastrophe.
I agree with Professor Wilientz.
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    Debt service (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:20:23 AM EST

    Debt service is only about 6% of federal spending.  There is more than enough revenue every month to cover debt service several times over.  The only possible way we could default without an increase in the debt ceiling is for the administration to prioritize other spending over debt service.  

    There is no indication that Obama is that reckless.


    In a fiat system... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:39:57 AM EST
    ...it is not factually possible for the federal government to go financially bankrupt. You are not even aware of what you mean. The only think going on here is human beings CHOOSING to harm other people for political purposes. Only if we traded in a natural commodity or were on some gold standard still, would anything being said about money right now be true. We are engaged in a suicidal game of delusion and absurdity. We act as if money controls humans when it is, obviously, the other way around. But, hey, if we want to cut our wrists as a nation, that's our, um, right.


    To repeat: money is a fake, artificial thing created out of thin air whenever the powers that be feel like it. But we are treating it like the buffalo on the prarie. We are, again, CHOOSING to be mentally retarded. We are CHOOSING to hurt other people. We are CHOOSING to destroy the nation. Money, no more powerful on its own than a grain of sand, has nothing to do with this, it's simply a ruse to distract people from truth and, in the end, economic justice.



    "Prioritize other spending" - Heh (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:52:44 AM EST
    Without an increase in the debt ceiling, could Washington avoid default simply by cutting spending? That's what two leading Republicans, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Jim DeMint, urged over the weekend. What they didn't say is that this would require instant cuts of at least 34 percent in everything but interest payments. And the cuts would be far deeper if Congress exempted popular programs for the elderly, or for defense.
    (53% cuts to everything else)

    Not to mention the catastrophic effects on the economy, unemployment, housing markets, government bond rates, etc.

    There is no indication that Obama is that reckless.

    You're right.  OTOH - there's every indication that the wingnuts are that reckless.


    Last week soldiers were working 16 hr days (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:49:58 PM EST
    And over the weekend every Ft Rucker soldier had to be close home unless the command gave them permission.  Cell phones had to be charged and able to ring at all times because........there was hurricane in the works and nobody to answer the emergency call if it came.  Not making this up, all true, and thank you flying spaghetti Munster that the Cane was a fizzle.

    There's other sorts of dangers already lurking though this minute.

    PS...don't try to get a replacement Social Security card or even one of those temp printouts if you happen to get a job but have misplaced your SS card.  They aren't doing any of that right now.  So out of work brown Americans clearing that job interview just be screwed okay?


    They also aren't processing new (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 03:25:10 PM EST
    applications for Social Security, all the disability claims processing is on hold - it's a mess.

    It's crazy (5.00 / 3) (#51)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 03:33:50 PM EST
    FSM forbid some catastrophe happens and watch how fast the wingers scurry for the shadows.  The same @$$hats who have been cheering a shutdown and/or minimizing its significance will try to point their fingers everywhere else.

    Karen (5.00 / 2) (#55)
    by Amiss on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 04:06:34 PM EST
    If that is the tropical disturbance you are referring to, has been leaving her effects over Jax for the last 6 days, because she ran into a cold front that stalled her.
    It has been a mess here because the drainage is not adequate for the city. With all of the Naval bases here, you would be surprised at the lack of assistance to the city anyone in the Navy is or has been. So you will have to forgive me the shock at your post about the military there. Those here are actually in no condition to help anyone, it's been like a big party to them 24 hours a day and the city just keeps catering to them. It is thoroughly disgusting.
    This coupled with half the town with flooded because of poor drainage, brand new pumps not working, Jaguars totally being just horrid, city funds being diverted from needed programs to buy a 46m sign to be put at Everbank Field (Jags field). Good ole boys at work making the top 1 percent taking care of themselves, of course.

    Link (none / 0) (#12)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:53:42 AM EST
    Only 6% (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:32:22 AM EST
    Did you calculate Social Security payments?

    How about Medicare?

    Defense spending?


    To "conservatives" (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by NYShooter on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:59:45 AM EST
    debt payments to normal, average people are discretionary; payments to bond holders are inviolate.

    None of that is debt service (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:07:04 AM EST

    Delayed or reduced  payments to any of those is not default.  For example, as it stands today the government decides what and when it will pay Medicare service providers.  A change in that decision is not default on the sovereign debt of the United States.



    Ignoring (for the moment) ... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:34:45 AM EST
    ... the devastating economic impact of refusing to raise the debt ceiling, where is your evidence that: 1) Obama has the authority to prioritize interest payments, and 2) prioritization is possible and 3) prioritization of interest payments is not default?

    1.  But they in practice can't juggle payments. What's more, they have no more legal authority to prioritize payments than they do to borrow extra money. All administrations find themselves charged with administering programs that they don't support. President Obama can't just refuse to pay out farm subsidies any more than President Mike Lee will be allowed to refuse to pay Social Security benefits.

    2.  From a fellow winger and Deputy Treasury Assistant to GW Bush Tony Fratto at AEI - Short and sweet: Why the debt ceiling must be raised, and prioritizing payments won't work.

    The idea that Treasury could prioritize - even if desired - is fanciful & misunderstands federal financing requirements.


    Some think Treasury can somehow navigate through this, but Treasury can't tell [Social Security] beneficiaries to wait until the 3rd week of the month.


    Some want to believe [the Administration] is bluffing or being political by saying "default". To me, actual default is not just possible but likely.

    Treasury Department Inspector General Eric M. Thorson concluded that the Treasury had no means or capacity to prioritize certain payments over others:

    While Congress enacted these expenditures, it did not prioritize them, nor did it direct the President or the Treasury to pay some expenses and not pay others. As a result, Treasury officials determined that there is no fair or sensible way to pick and choose among the many bills that come due every day. Furthermore, because Congress has never provided guidance to the contrary, Treasury's systems are designed to make each payment in the order it comes due.

    The Bipartisan Policy Center found that between 40 and 45 percent of the government's 80 million monthly payments would go unpaid, and even if payments could be prioritized, popular and necessary programs would be among those forced to go unfunded. The government, the report said, could afford to pay interest on government debt, Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and defense contractors. But that would leave it unable to pay troops and other government workers, and it would leave the criminal justice and education systems totally unfunded. And even then, it could afford those payments only as revenue came in, not at the beginning of the month, meaning the payments would face significant delays. In short, BPC concluded, a prioritization scheme would be "essentially impossible."

    3)  While well-intentioned, this idea is unworkable.  It would not actually prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments, and not other legal obligations of the U.S., from non-payment.  Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would recognize it as a failure by the U.S. to stand behind its commitments. - Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin


    It is of course (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:00:33 PM EST

    Delayed or reduced payments (none / 0) (#27)
    by MKS on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:15:26 PM EST
    is not a default??  In what world?

    Tell that to homeowners who try that with their mortgage companies....  


    Of course if is not default (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 01:19:41 PM EST

    A homeowner is a borrower paying a debt.  Failure to pay what is due on a debt is default.  If the government hypothetically it is going to pay $4,000 net 90 days for a Medicare hip replacement instead of $5,000 net 30 days, that is a change in policy not a default.

    Do you think that the price the government is willing to pay for a service can never go down?

    BTW unless you have an employment contract and the employer cuts your pay, that is not a default either.



    A dictionary might help (none / 0) (#43)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:24:26 PM EST
    "Default" is a term which means "failure to do something required by duty (as under a contract or by law)".  Much as you wish it were otherwise, it is not limited to "failure to pay what is due on a debt".  If you are a legal obligation to do something (by contract or law) and you fail to do it, you (by definition) "in default".

    Thats the point (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:39:05 PM EST

    Glad to see your starting to understand.  The amount the government shells out in transfer payments and pay to most government workers and the armed services is not a contractual obligation but simply government policy.

    If the government were to decide to quite paying military pensions tomorrow, there is no contract violation and no default.

    The amounts that the government pays because of government policy and are not contractually obligated can never be cause a default by decreasing or even eliminating those policy driven payments.



    If that's your point ... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 03:29:16 PM EST
    ... you need to try again.

    The obligation needn't be "a contractual obligation" in order for a default to occur, merely a legal obligation.  The obligation may arise because of a contract (i.e. federal workers/military salaries, Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement to medical providers, defense contracts, etc.) or by operation of law (Social Security payments, etc.).

    Regardless of whether the obligation arises by way of contract or law, it is nonetheless a legal obligation.  You should familiarize yourself with what we generally refer to as "mandatory spending" programs.  These are called "mandatory" because they are required by law - hence the use of the term "mandatory".  This would include Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, unemployment compensation, as well as portions of the budgets for several other departments, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  You can actually find the language mandating these payments under each program's applicable statute.

    Regardless of whether these payments are contractual in nature, they are legal obligations.  Failure to do something you are required to do by law is - as we've already established - a "default".

    Unless, of course, you wingers want to go ahead and change existing law so that SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. payments are not mandatory.  By all means - feel free to go ahead and try that.



    BTW - You still haven't ... (none / 0) (#44)
    by Yman on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:27:42 PM EST
    ... indicated what legal authority Obama has to prioritize interest payments on the national debt over other legal obligations.

    Of course, the reason you haven't is because you can't ...


    Okay, fine by me (none / 0) (#26)
    by MKS on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:13:47 PM EST
    Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus.  Let Obama save the union against these economic secessionists.....

    Once again, the powers that be.... (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:31:39 AM EST
    ...make sure we know that money matters more than people. And where IS Obama with two cents of imagination, where is his dedicated internet channel spewing 24/7 truth and humor straight to the American people without the need of networks? Where is he telling the truth about fiat currency, that it is not possible for the federal government to go broke, there is only the choice to make people suffer. He should be everywhere, everyday, all day, acting like a real leader. We know the Repubs are nuts, idiotic...then why can't the Dems offer ANYTHING resembling outside the box thinking or action?

    Why? Because, utimately, they are about as financially corrupted as the Repubs. And on financial matters they will by and large go along with Repub nonsense, which we've seen them do time and time again.

    Corruption is what we are dealing with, pure and simple, all the rest is theatre. With real audience members suffering, that is.

    Well said, (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by lentinel on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:42:12 AM EST

    AP reports today on "non-negotiations" (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 09:58:01 AM EST
    coming from the WH.

    The White House has said repeatedly the president will not negotiate with Republicans until the government is fully reopened and the debt limit has been raised. But it hasn't said the debt limit measure has to be completely "clean" of add-ons.

    White House aide Jason Furman told reporters the White House could accept some add-ons if Boehner "needs to have some talking point for his caucus that's consistent with us not negotiating ... that's not adding a bunch of extraneous conditions." Another White House official, Gene Sperling, said the administration could be open to an interim, short-term debt limit extension to prevent a catastrophic default. link

    not negotiating (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by mm on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:10:42 AM EST
    Every day I hear the president say he is not negotiating, and then every day I read about one more thing the president is putting on the table.

    Please, if this is what not negotiating means, I say for the love of God start negotiating for your constituents.


    If you were a trucker, this would be your (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:25:21 AM EST
    response to the doings in DC:

    Tractor-trailer drivers will intentionally clog the inner loop of the Washington, D.C., beltway beginning on the morning of Oct. 11, according to a coordinator of the upcoming "Truckers Ride for the Constitution" rally.

    Organizers of the three-day ride want to call attention to a litany of trucker frustrations and express their disapproval of national political leaders.

    Earl Conlon, a Georgia trucker who is handling logistics for the protest, told U.S. News tractor-trailer drivers will circle the beltway "three lanes deep" as he rides with other participants to Congress to seek the arrest of congressmen for allegedly disregarding the Constitution.

    The truckers circling I-495 will keep the left lane open for emergency vehicles, Conlon said, but "everybody that doesn't have a supporter sticker on their window, good luck: Nobody in, nobody out." The trucks will be going the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit.

    D.C. commuters who wish to be allowed past the convoy must have "T2SDA" - an acronym for the event's original name, "Truckers to Shut Down America" - written on their vehicle, he said.


    Andrews said last week 3,000 truckers had RSVP-ed to the event, and Conlon says he's now lost count of the number. He says he's receiving around 100 emails a day from prospective participants.

    Read the whole thing...people have lost their minds.  

    Not that I normally travel the 495 corridor, but I think if I were anyone who does, I'd stay as far away from the Beltway as possible on Friday.  Sheesh.

    Love the idea... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:55:43 AM EST
    but the demands are so lame.  Arrests for treason?  Truckas please...

    I'm not keen on arming Syrians, sh*t not keen on arming anybody, but as far as treasonous actions by our government that hardly rates.  Domestic economic treason makes more sense to protest against.  The new gilded age that will leave oust truckers from the middle class just like the rest of the middle class, into the poor debtor class.


    I love this part <snark> (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:13:06 PM EST
    "We're not asking for impeachment, we're asking for the arrest of everyone in government who has violated their oath of office." These include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), both for purportedly arming al Qaeda linked Syrian rebels.

    Inquiring minds want to know why John McCain and Lindsey Graham are not on the list of those to be arrested for advocating for arming Syrian rebels. IIRC they have pushed the longest and the strongest for the U.S. to take this action.


    Shorter Truckers... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:38:05 PM EST
    "arrest everybody's arse!";)

    I'm somewhat down with that sentiment, but "arrest everybody!" is another habit we should be protesting, not encouraging.  Clog the country's arteries until every congress-critter resigns sounds better to me, we don't need them in chains, just far away from the controls.


    Nope, I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by MO Blue on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 01:10:28 PM EST
    Truckers message is loud and clear:

    "arrest Dems' arses"

    IOW, conservative truckers are using this issue as an excuse to attack Obama and the Dems. There was no planned assault on D.C. when Obama was reluctant to arm the rebels and McCain and Graham were screaming non stop that the U.S. needed to arm the rebels and Obama was not fulfilling his duty as president by failing to do so.


    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 01:20:14 PM EST
    if they were true to their word it would be "arrest (almost) everybody!" for violating oath of office.

    But since, like most everybody else, they are full of sh*t, they'd only wanna slap chains on Brand D, bring on the facism, and destroy their livelyhoods...point taken.


    I keep (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:01:01 PM EST
    pointing this kind of stuff out to my conservative friends and it seems to go over their heads. I tell them they can't seem to ever figure out how Obama keeps winning and I tell them look at the above example. The only thing to the right of today's GOP is full blown schizophrenia because right now they are teetering on the verge of insanity.

    Hopefully only about five truckers will show up for this nonsense.


    Luckily (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:56:39 AM EST
    It's Friday and the beginning of a holiday weekend, so traffic will be lighter anyway.

    Your (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by lentinel on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:41:10 AM EST
    analysis of the Constitution is, imo, right on the money.

    Now why do you suppose that the former Professor of Constitutional law, now President, doesn't know what you do?

    I can only surmise that it is wilful ignorance because he just doesn't care that much about it.

    Maybe he and his party are passive as long as it looks bad for the Republicans in the midterms.

    But Republicans aside, I just don't get the impression that the democrats are concerned to the extent that they should be - considering the increasing suffering inflicted on the people of this country.

    No courage. No compassion. No leadership. Nowhere.

    One possible reason (none / 0) (#16)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:22:54 AM EST
    While I'm not guessing at the combination of factors that go into his decision about what is constitutional--or what would be widely viewed by the populace as constitutional in the first instance--let us guess that the route suggested by Jeralyn (with which I agree from a legal perspective) almost assures impeachment talk and process from the crazy Teapots/Repubs.  And, the practical reason that is not something for us to flirt with is that the circus atmosphere would be an extremely costly circus, in time and $$$.  To put America through a costly, and ultimately worthless circus, may well affect the public (especially the neediest in the public)at least as negatively as the situation we are in now.

    So ... for practical reasons, the better path for now remains the pathway to seek a debt limit increase via Congress and astutely avoid taking the bait set out by those who would want to take up the next year or so with an impeachment process. Apart from the lousy precedent that would set for future Presidents: Don't give the right the satisfaction; rather, make them come to public terms with the reality that the debt ceiling must be raised.

    lentinel: Please step back a bit and think about it in a broader sense than what you state now.


    Everybody (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by lentinel on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:41:49 AM EST
    is stepping back.

    It's as if it's not happening.

    But it is happening.

    And the leadership of this country is comatose.

    If there is a solution that is in line with provisions in the constitution, it should be taken.

    Obama is either ignorant of this option, or wilfully ignoring it.

    I think that there is a partisan agenda in play here on both sides of the aisle - and it really stinks.


    On one aspect, we agree (none / 0) (#33)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:38:33 PM EST
    In situations like this, there is always "a partisan agenda."  Political life, government life.

    And, you are correct that this whole thing continues to "happen."  Yet, realize that the Teapot bunch are yearning for any prospect as grounds (no matter how flimsy, wrong, or unreal) for impeachment.  For months, that whole Repub bunch has been accusing the President of overreaching by Executive Order and other acts.  If you should say "so what," here is the political life result: Any, any kind of act by this President that has the slightest appearance of overreaching in terms of debt limit will provoke and allow the loudmouth Teapots to proclaim via every news outlet that the President is usurping the role of another branch of government by moving ahead as a king or something similar, etc. etc.

     Because the news media loves heavy political conflict, what do you think the stories will be for days and weeks to come?  Do you think the result would be any resolution of anything in the body politic?  Do you think that there would be more or less anger?  Do you think that the public can or will understand the legal argument girding the President's position in the first or second instance ... or will it be drowned out by the yelling, rallies, fundraising, blaring voices?  And, if the public questions why everyone didn't work together (which is a predictable response), what does that mean or portend in a representative government.

    It is great when scholarly legal strategy converges with pragmatic strategy.  My point: Approaching this issue from a pure Constitutional perspective is inviting for a short while, but -- in the circumstances of the emotional fiasco called "the debt limit" argument-- disregarding the unfortunate and very real divisions/hatreds seen in the body politic today would be a fool's errand akin to throwing gasoline into the conflagration, whether artificial or not, surrounding the issue. It may require a bit more patience on our part, but it really is the better course today to refuse to let the congressional right-wing pivot to a lengthy impeachment cause while escaping the mess that they have caused to date.


    If our President is forced to act (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:00:55 PM EST
    As BTD outlines, it is not as if by doing so we will all come through this gloriously unscathed.  The House has to FAIL first, that alone screws us right into hell.  All of his actions that follow will simply be attempting to keep ship America from smashing into unrecoverable pieces on the rocks.

    Utter nonsense! (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:38:10 PM EST
    default would be catastrophic for the nation

    The country will no more default if the debt ceiling takes a few days to work out, anymore than the government has actually shutdown since last week.

    (Especially ridiculous from BTD who doesn't think deregulation was catastrophic.  And that's, um, like, actually caused catastrophes.)

    This is all political theater.  Largely used to distract the public.  No one's paying attention to JP Morgan, for example.

    And your constitution argument would make more sense if you were suggesting that the idea of a debt ceiling itself was unconstitutional.  Because, of course, if it could actually do what you say it would be.  But of course it cannot.

    You read way too much into the 14th, it is simply saying Civil War debts are like any other debts.  End of.  A blind man can see that with a cane.

    The emperor has no clothes (none / 0) (#9)
    by vicndabx on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 10:41:51 AM EST
    or rather the US:

    from an earlier article in the NY Times re: this same discussion:

    However one interprets the Constitution, there remains the practical question of whether the nation's creditors would continue to lend to the United States if the president did take unilateral action.

    "I don't think anyone in their right minds would buy those bonds," Michael W. McConnell, a law professor at Stanford, said of debt issued without Congressional authorization.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see us remove Congress from the equation - to the extent we can.  I just worry about next steps after we get there.

    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:59:26 AM EST
    They'll buy Greek bonds instead.

    That's just stupid.


    Of course, you're right.... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by NYShooter on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:28:16 PM EST
    for now.

    There's nothing currently on the horizon that would displace the Safe Haven status the U.S. holds for International money. As long as the U.S. military dominates the globe Big Money wants to be "inside the gate." But, aggravations like the current political circus, default possibilities (albeit, temporary) or, even the recent, mostly cosmetic, credit downgrades, are not nothing either.

    But, nothing stays the same forever. China/Asia is currently growing much faster than the U.S. economically, and, eventually, will challenge us militarily, also.
    So, while these disruptive antics are just chits the world has to swallow for the time being, there may come a time, when all the stars are aligned properly, and critical mass is reached, that the Big Money decides enough is enough and cashes in its chits, and abandons The Dollar as its Reserve Currency.

    No one knows when/if that day will come. But, every time we pull one of these increasingly stupid stunts, we inch ever closer to a real abyss.

    It's sort of like smoking cigarettes; "Do you feel lucky, America? Well, do ya, Punk?"


    If They Come With... (none / 0) (#37)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 01:10:21 PM EST
    ...tzatziki sauce I will take 3 cause they sound yummy.

    I'll send you (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Zorba on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 01:47:39 PM EST
    a quart of tzatziki sauce.  You don't have to buy any bonds.  ;-)

    Does the esteemed professor not (none / 0) (#24)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:07:33 PM EST
    know how money is created?

    Part of the problem is that I think most of the people reporting on this story don't know whether what they're being told by the various "experts" they're getting sound-bites from is correct - and that means they can't really follow up or challenge what they're being told, so what we're left with is largely a collection of dire predictions.

    And the more dire it sounds, the more we risk acting out of fear, and not from fact.

    And, the more we are set up to accept "solutions" and "deals" that hurt far more people than they help.


    You miss the point (none / 0) (#28)
    by MKS on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:17:55 PM EST
    Whatever technical argument you make about the government just creating money to pay debts, without Congressional approval, you create a level of uncertainty that has never really existed.

    And btw current law prevents the Fed from lending money to the Treasury.


    Actually, my point wasn't about the (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Anne on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:46:30 PM EST
    technical arguments about the creation of money, it was about the inability of the media to accurately report on the issue because most of them don't really understand monetary and fiscal policy themselves.

    I'll say it again, in case you missed my point while you were taking notes on how I had missed vic's: it's hard to challenge or follow-up with the comments of any expert when one doesn't understand the finer points of the issue.

    This contributes to, and in some cases drives, the uncertainty.  It just hangs out there and eventually becomes fact, whether it is or not becomes irrelevant.

    It's Disaster Reporting that does nothing to educate - and possibly calm - people, it just frightens them.  We got a war that way, remember?  We got frightened by the specter of 9/11 into going along with a wholly unnecessary war that haunts us to this day.

    What unnecessary things are we going to get as a result of this looming disaster?

    [notice, if you will, the absence of discussion about the mechanics of money creation; I hope that makes it easier for you to get the point I originally made]


    Thank you (none / 0) (#30)
    by vicndabx on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:30:04 PM EST
    that was my point. I don't disagree the president may have the options BTD outlines, nor do I think he shouldn't use them.  

    It's the uncertainty that it would create.  Geopolitical posturing?  We thought it was bad w/Syria, who knows what mess this creates when you start talking about money.  


    I will take that uncertainty (none / 0) (#31)
    by MKS on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:37:05 PM EST
    to prevent this economic act of Secession.

    Fair enough (none / 0) (#36)
    by vicndabx on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:59:08 PM EST
    I'm torn

    How money is created (none / 0) (#29)
    by MKS on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:19:58 PM EST
    depends first on the definition of money.....

    With China and Japan publicly (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:49:29 AM EST
    Asking us to get our act together....what do you think the Teapublicans can do with that?  Their base goes all cross-eyed insane talking about how furriners own us.

    1st largest investor in our debt is China, 2nd Japan, 3rd Caribbean banking???  Isn't Caribbean banking the rich...the 1%?

    I don't think there is anything Obama can really do.  I think this fight settles on Teapublicans and who they choose to champion in the end.  Will they champion their deranged zombified base or will they decide they cannot capsize the job creators?  As for the rest of us, they could care less and boozing on the House floor before making extremely dangerous votes?  Well, you know what AA would say about all that and destroying your own life :)  There will be no fearless moral inventory :)

    Seriously... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by kdog on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 12:51:38 PM EST
    If China wants to get any more interest payments, it is in their best interest to stfu...they're only encouraging default by commenting on our circus.

    But I must say, the thought of welching is somewhat appealing...it would only serve China right for investing in this piece.  

    Default, blow the global economy up, and create something equitable and sustainable anew...short term pain for long term gain. F*ck it.


    Somehow (none / 0) (#52)
    by christinep on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 06:14:47 PM EST
    this place feels like another planet today.

    Roubini (none / 0) (#53)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 08:08:56 PM EST
    is predicting that if the GOP continues on their current path that the stock market and every American will lose 50% of what they have.

    The Constitution... (none / 0) (#54)
    by unitron on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:40:42 PM EST
    ...says what debts are to be considered legitimate debts of the United States, and it empowers Congress both to put the US into debt and to pay off said debt and to raise the money with which to pay off those debts.

    But since the authors of the original document and the authors of the various relevant amendments were more or less sane and rational, it apparently didn't occur to them that it would be necessary to insert language that actually forced the Congress to pay off those debts even if they didn't want to because they were in the middle of a temper tantrum at the time.

    As to whether the President has any power to raise the money to pay those debts, I don't think he's got any more power to borrow money on behalf of the US than he does to impose taxes or fees, but then again I'd say he has just as much power to impose taxes and fees as he does to put the US further in debt.