Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger
Following up on the continuing saga of the debt default crisis and our earlier articles, I had a few more thoughts on how the crisis should be handled. The first suggested solution came from President Clinton who argued for it in a recent interview.
“Former president Bill Clinton said he’d solve the debt crisis Old School Style: just raise the roof. In an interview with the National Memo, Clinton said he believed a deal would be struck before August 2, but if he were in charge, and both sides failed to reach an agreement, he would simply raise the debt ceiling himself using powers granted under the 14th amendment of the Constitution. The amendment says that the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned. Clinton said he’d “force the courts to stop me.” “I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton said.” Bill Clinton
At first I did not think much about it because it was a concept that I was unfamiliar with, but the idea has not gone away. It struck home when I read an article by two conservative law professors partially supporting the same process that President Clinton had suggested.
“PRESIDENT OBAMA should announce that he will raise the debt ceiling unilaterally if he cannot reach a deal with Congress. Constitutionally, he would be on solid ground. Politically, he can’t lose. The public wants a deal. The threat to act unilaterally will only strengthen his bargaining power if Republicans don’t want to be frozen out; if they defy him, the public will throw their support to the president. Either way, Republicans look like the obstructionists and will pay a price. Where would Mr. Obama get his constitutional authority to raise the debt ceiling? Our argument is not based on some obscure provision of the 14th amendment, but on the necessities of state, and on the president’s role as the ultimate guardian of the constitutional order, charged with taking care that the laws be faithfully executed. “ New York Times (Registration may be required)
The proposal by Prof. Posner and Prof. Vermuele is not the same as the one advanced by President Clinton, but the result is the same. Posner and Vermuele are suggesting that the President has authority to act in order to protect that the laws are faithfully executed. These two professors are suggesting this approach as a constitutional matter and as a negotiating stance. I understand their approach, but I am not sure it isn’t too late for this approach since the White House already shot down President Clinton’s suggestion. Reuters
In light of the risks involved if we do default, I have to agree with Prof. Posner and Prof. Vermuel’s negotiating approach and their reliance on the President’s duty to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed. However, it is not a perfect answer or a perfect theory. Something needs to get done and one of these arguments just might get the country over this self-inflicted hurdle. How should Congress and how should the President act in order to stave off a default that will kill Main Street? The default clock is ticking!
Additional Source: Think Progress
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger