The fight over House Speaker won’t change anything in this Congress

Mike Grillo

Mike Grillo is a writer who, when not writing, is working in finance and surviving the wilds of being a New Jersey resident. He does not tweet.

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3 Responses

  1. Philip H

    Over at WaPo, Jennifer Rubin points out that failing to raise the debt ceiling doesn’t just imperil the economy, it’s also unconstitutional:

    Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution states that Congress has the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts.” It further states that Congress has the power to borrow “on the credit” of the United States. Plainly, the Founding Fathers did not envision lawmakers deliberately refusing payment of debts and destroying the credit of the United States.

    But the 14th Amendment makes clear that this power does not include the power to trigger a default. As constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe succinctly tweeted, “The debt ceiling is a misnomer: it does nothing to cap spending but just creates an illusory threat to stiff our creditors.” That’s because “[Section] 4 of 14th Amendment forbids defaulting on the nation’s debts.”

    In other words, the Constitution compels the government to honor its debts. The administration shouldn’t need congressional action to do that.

    • Michael Cain in reply to Philip H

      Doesn’t that just imply that of the revenue that comes in each month, the Treasury would have to pay interest and principle on the assorted paper, then move on to other spending?

      During one of the financial crises there were Wall Street pundits screaming that everyone should abandon California’s state bond issues immediately, because they would never be paid. They hadn’t read California’s constitution, which explicitly puts K-12 and debt payments at the top of the list, with everything else to follow. There was never any question but what California had sufficient revenues to pay for those two items, as the state controller tried to point out repeatedly.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Michael Cain

        Reading the appropriate Constitutional clauses and their derivative federal statutes, once Congress appropriates, the Executive has to spend the money largely as Congress directed, and has to take on and service such debt as is required to do so.

        As usual much of the ballyhoo here is Congressional slight of hand where the GOP can APPEAR to be fiscally conservative by serving up government cuts they know won’t pass in the Senate so they can go back to their constituents and beg for more seats – all the while planning to NOT cut discretionary spending and praying that somehow Earned Benefits mysteriously disappear from the balance sheet.Report

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