Katrina vanden Heuvel writing in today’s Washington Post manages a flame-out so epic it surpasses even E.J. Dionne at his best/worst.
After the obligatory liberal mantra of “Republicans are negotiating in bad faith by not giving Democrats exactly what they want, when they want it,” Ms. vanden Heuvel writes that President Obama is entitled to ignore the debt ceiling because the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment says he can. She cites “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.” to support her position that the president can — nay, must — ignore the debt ceiling in order to pay the debt as well as all other extant government expenditures at current levels. Nice try.
Ms. vanden Heuvel either ignores or is unaware of conflicting portions of the Constitution, such as Article 1, Section 8 which authorizes Congress, and only Congress, to borrow money on the credit of the United States. Ignoring the debt ceiling would be a direct violation of separation of powers, with the executive usurping Article I powers given to the legislature. For, what is the debt ceiling statute if not a Congressionally imposed limitation on borrowing? The president may certainly complain that failing to raise the debt ceiling is irrational and borderline suicidal, but he may not ignore it without plunging our republic into a true constitutional crisis.
Ms. vanden Heuvel may also want to familiarize herself with Article I, Section 7, which requires that all spending bills originate in the House. ‘Puter’s fairly certain that the office of the president is not within House membership, though he could be wrong.
At best for Ms. vanden Heuvel, her argument would be that Congress, in failing to raise the debt ceiling limit, violated the 14th Amendment’s mandate that the credit of the United States shall not be brought into question. As she correctly notes, it is exceedingly unlikely that a sister branch of government, in this case the executive, would bring an action to litigate the question. Economic circumstances would require the feuding branches to resolve the question long before the Supreme Court ever got around to resolving it.
As for Ms. vanden Heuvel’s contention that case law supports the president vetoing or ignoring laws he believes unconstitutional, she may be correct. However, the case cited does not permit the president to violate the separation of powers doctrine at his whim. ‘Puter would love to see Ms. vanden Heuvel’s head explode if a conservative ever advanced the notion that a Republican president would be free to ignore ObamaCare, Medicare or Medicaid because he thought the programs unconstitutional. Please think through your arguments, Ms. vanden Heuvel. They will be used against you some day.
If Ms. vanden Heuvel were a serious liberal, and if not debt ceiling agreement were reached, she’d make the following argument. Congress hasn’t raised the debt ceiling, and there is no current budget. As the executive, President Obama is constrained from spending money in excess of what Congress has appropriated. Congress has to determine how to spend the existing money, and on what, before President Obama can tell Treasury to cut checks to anyone. This includes creditors, contractors, employees, seniors and every one else sucking at the government teat. President Obama would then be able to squarely kick the mess back to Congress, and blame it, and likely the Republicans, for any of the resulting consequences. As an added benefit, he can cloak his political power play in the Constitution and appear to be reasonable.
But no one ever listens to ‘Puter.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.