There is a lot of hub-bub going around about the Democrats push to raise the Federal debt ceiling, the GOP push for a Balanced Budget Amendment, and the need for the House Republicans to compromise on these issues, and the more important issue of out-of-control government spending. There is even talk that Obama can, and should, use executive power to bypass Congress and raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.
Ed Morrissey, over on Hot Air, has a good take on why this would be a disaster for Obama if he did use an Executive Order to raise the debt ceiling. To briefly summarize, the debt ceiling is a matter of statutory law. An Executive Order cannot be used to override a statutory law. Ed goes in to a lot of detail on why it would be both bad fiscally as well as politically and I encourage you to hop on over to Hot Air and give it a read.
This, however, will not dampen the calls by the Left encouraging Obama to raise the debt ceiling under the 14th Amendment. They claim, wrongly, that the 14th gives Obama (the Executive) the power to do exactly that. Here is the pertinent part of the 14th Amendment which the Left claims to grant such power:
Section 4. 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 rest of that section has to do with saying it doesn’t have to pay for debts incurred by rebellious states.
Granted, they (the Left), and everyone else, is right when it is claimed that the public debt must be paid. It does not grant the power to acquire more debt (raising the debt ceiling), only that current debt must be paid: military pay, Social Security, Medicaid, interest on current debt, etc.
The worst case scenario, contrary to the claims of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the Left, is NOT default, but that the Federal Government will be put on an immediate diet, forced to reduce spending by between 25% and 40%. In my opinion, this is a good thing. It may hurt a little initially, but many of the programs (National Endowment of the Arts, National Public Radio, welfare programs, to name a few) didn’t exist until the 20th Century (how ever did we survive as a nation without them?).
But those who keep claiming that Obama has the power under the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling (and spend gobs more money America hasn’t got), miss two very important points. I touched on one already, and that the 14th Amendment does not give the President power to create statutory law, which is what the debt limit is, statutory law. The second, and this is even more important, is that the 14th Amendmentors (for lack of a better term) are ignoring this last section of the 14th Amendment:
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
It doesn’t say that the Executive has the power, but that the Congress has the power to enforce the provisions of the 14th Amendment. That’s right; Congress has the Power, not the President.
So, if Obama does unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, bypassing Congress, it will end up in the Supreme Court where his actions will be found unconstitutional. Whether or not the House also moves to impeach is another matter as, no doubt, the Democrats will form a circle around their Chosen One and protect him from being tossed out of office so that we don’t end up with Bozo the Clown, er, Joe Biden as president until January 20th 2013.
Bottom line, raising the debt limit via Executive Order is unconstitutional and an impeachable offense. If Obama pursues that course, he needs to man-up and take ownership for his disastrous agenda.
My take on the debt limit: Don’t raise it. Period. Stop the spending now. And yes, back in ’92, Perot was right.