Can The Default “Crisis” Be Solved Unilaterally?

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

76 thoughts on “Can The Default “Crisis” Be Solved Unilaterally?”

  1. It is essential to make a research of the situation, and to truthfully budget the payments.
    While it is ordinarily true that any good early pay
    separate from does not surely affect your credit, a late payment amount will
    do your opposite effect.

  2. Raff,

    International Monetary Fund is technically correct.


    If you take a look at the 2 vids, and you determine that
    Goldamn Sucks own Greece lock stock and fuggin’ banks,

    The Greeks tell us that IMF actually stands for
    International Mother F*&%$&(s

  3. Bud,
    Isn’t IMF the International Monetary Fund?
    Swarthmore, great link to the implosion of the Republican party.

  4. Swarthmore,
    St. A’s in Evanston is close to where I grew up in Skokie. I think we played St. A’s in basketball when I was in Catholic grade school at St. Lamberts.

  5. rafflaw, Joe Walsh used to attend St A’s in Evanston where my sister goes. He wanted to run for office so he moved to Barrington and became a teabagger. Evanston was way too liberal for hIm. My teabagger congressman, Pete Sessions, has been holding fundraisers at a strip club in Las Vegas. His wife just filed for divorce.

  6. Swarthmore,
    Speaker Boehner does not have control of the Tea Party caucus and I don’t think anything will help him. Maybe if we remind him that my tea party congressman, Joe Walsh, is in with his ex-wife arguing over the $100,000 she says he owes in back child support! I wonder if the Tea Party is against child support?

  7. Spending Cuts? What Spending Cuts?

    House Speaker John Boehner has revised his budget plan in response to an unfavorable analysis by the CBO. The CBO has examined Boehner’s new plan and finds that it would cut spending by $917 billion over 10 years. Of the total, only $761 billion would be cuts to programs. The rest of the savings would be from reduced interest costs.

    Actually, the revised Boehner plan doesn’t cut spending at all. The chart shows the discretionary spending caps in the new Boehner plan. Spending increases every year—from $1.043 trillion in 2012 to $1,234 trillion in 2021. (These figures exclude the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    [Chart omitted: See original article]

    The “cuts” in the Boehner plan are only cuts from the CBO baseline, which is an assumed path of constantly rising spending. If Congress wanted to, it could require CBO to increase its “baseline” spending by, say, $5 trillion over the next decade. Then Boehner could claim that he was “cutting” spending by $5.9 trillion, even though his plan hadn’t changed. You can see that discretionary “cuts” against baselines don’t mean anything.


    This is very typical Washington style “Spending Cuts” in which no actual spending is every actually cut, just the growth of spending.

  8. Voted delayed. Does Boehner have control of his party? Panic hasn’t started yet.

  9. “Why did the Government borrow from our Social Security in the first place?”

    Why did you let them collect it in the first place? And it would seem that if you “lent” the government your money to take care of and it pissed it away, then you are still resposible for it. Unless of course you’d like to admit that once the government confiscates your money, it is no longer yours, in which case the government would owe you compensation.

    You cannot have it both ways. You cannot demand the government force the current working generation to fund your poorly planned retirement because the government spent money previously confiscated from you. For if you can lay claim to money taken out of your paycheck, why shouldnt the current worker being taxed to fund your social security payments make the same exact claim? Its his money too isnt it? If the government is scrambling to make payments to someone who has been “contributing” for decades, why should the current generation have any faith the government will make good on its obligations decades from now?

  10. Entitlements, oh hell no, I paid cash for my Social Security Insurance! Just because they borrowed my money, doesn’t make my benefits some kind of charity or handout! Congressional benefits like free health care, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days: now that’s welfare; and they have the nerve to call my retirement entitlements!

    Someone please tell me what the Hell is wrong with all the people that run this country!

    We’re broke and can’t help our Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless etc.?

    In recent months we have provided aid to Haiti , Chile, Pakistan…home to bin Laden…literally BILLIONS of DOLLARS!

    Our retired seniors living on a fixed incomes receive no aid nor do they get any breaks while our government gives Hundreds of Billions to Foreign Countries!

    They call Social Security and Medicare entitlements even though most of us have been paying for them all our working lives. And now, when its time for us to collect, the Government is running out of money. Why did the Government borrow from our Social Security in the first place?

    We have many adoptable children who are shoved aside to make room for the adoption of foreign orphans.

    AMERICA: a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medication, mentally ill going without treatment, etc.

    Imagine if our Government gave us the same support they give the people who hate us.

    Sad, isn’t it?

    But 99% of people won’t have the guts to forward this.

    I’m part of one the 1% that Just Did.

  11. As long as we are resorting to appeal to authority: Prof. Tribe has expressed the opinion that the 14th A does not give the President authority here.

    Contrary to Mr. Sjostrand’s position that there are only two choices, there is at least one more: stop only discretionary spending and make all payments required to prevent a default.

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