The President Could Ignore the Debt Ceiling

By | June 28, 2011

The theoretical idea that Obama could simply ignore the debt ceiling and continue borrowing and spending has been put forth by that bastion of knowledge – the New York Times.

In the ongoing debate over raising the debt ceiling, one option has not had much prominence: whether the Obama administration could ignore it altogether..

Sure, why not. He’s ignored Congress, the War Powers Act, the will of the people, FEC campaign laws and who knows what else. Why not just throw the debt ceiling onto the pile of standards that Obama chooses to ignore?

Although doing so would make him even less popular than he already is, could he pull it off? Kind of.

The fourteenth amendment 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.

The 14th is the argument the left would use to say that the debt cannot be questioned and therefor it is the responsibility of the executive to make good on that debt. They would extend “debt” to include costs not yet incurred, but appropriated. Those are not the same thing. If Congress appropriated billions for government salaries, but those employees have not yet worked those hours, there is no debt. The ceiling would force the administration (specifically the Treasury) to service the debt first and whatever is left would have to cover any other expenditures – and there wouldn’t be enough left.

The debt ceiling would therefor cause government programs to be greatly cut, spending to be reduced and a real conversation on balancing the budget would have to be had. None of this would give Obama the authority to spend on anything above and beyond the debt ceiling and his administration would be forced to dole out the crumbs left once the interest on the debt is paid.

 

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