By Bill Wilson – Left-wing pundits and their cronies in Congress delivered a well-timed second punch to the Obama news conference on the continuing fight over an increase in the U.S. debt limit today. While Obama tried to show he was “involved” in the negotiations, his henchmen announced that it might not matter; that Congress really had no saying in the debt limit.
The thrust of their argument is that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires the President to do whatever he wants in order to ensure, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” Overlooking the entire context of the section of the Amendment – ensuring debts incurred to battle the Confederacy were honored and barring the government or any state from assuming the debts of the rebel government – the apologists for the Administration assert that it is a universal mandate. From this they claim the President has the power to ignore Congress and issue as much new debt as he deems appropriate.
As with so many conflicts with this gang, they are trying to divert attention from the reality of the situation and present one of Obama’s “false choices.”
Were Congress to truly represent the People who by large margins oppose an increase in the debt limit, the government would not immediately go into default. Default is a political choice. Money still flows to the Treasury every day. As interest payments came due, the money would be there to pay them. As old debt was retired, new debt could be issued up to the current limit.
What the Administration could not do is incur new debt, additional debt. They could not spend trillions of dollars more than they take in. An instant balanced budget would result. So, there is no legal right or claim of the President to overturn Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution which gives the House of Representatives the sole power to originate “the raising of revenue.” And let’s be clear, adding new debt is new revenue. The President has no role.
In fact, the 14th Amendment would tie Obama’s hands in the event the debt limit is not raised. He would be required to pay interest first, he is not allowed to default. There is enough money for that. Everything else would then become a political decision. Does he pay Social Security claims and deny our armed forces their pay? Does he play the time honored game of past hucksters and charlatans by looking to blocki funding with the aim of hurting the public in order to get the legislative branch to give in? Or, is there a statesman inside that otherwise apparent empty suit?
Obama could shut down all the wasteful and needless departments and agencies of the government – HUD, Commerce, Labor, etc. He could cut the federal workforce by millions while proposing less costly support programs to get the bureaucrats back into the productive private sector. He could tell the states to manage their own affairs and pull the federal bribes. He could end the US presence in over 100 countries, tell the Europeans to start defending themselves and deploy the returning military personnel to the border with Mexico to help that country deal with the raging drug violence.
The list of things Obama could do is near endless, things that would save money so he could meet the constitutional mandate of the 14th Amendment while pairing back the monstrous federal government. But it would be his choice, his political decision.
So, as the negotiations continue over the debt ceiling and other budget matters, it might be good for Obama and his PR spin-doctors to stop the empty threats and silly ploys and get down to work. Blowing smoke and threatening a coup d’etat only makes them — and the country — look worse than they already do.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.