Showing posts with label #AmericanGovernment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #AmericanGovernment. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Presidential Limits in the Debt Ceiling Showdown.

14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, page 2.
(Section 4, shown above, concerns public debts.)
Work of NARA, Public Domain. 

As the standoff between House Republicans and President Biden over raising the nation's borrowing limit continues, the administration is reported by the New York Times today to be considering a constitutional challenge to the debt limit based on the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment states that the validity of the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned, which presents an apparent conflict with the current $31.4 trillion statutory borrowing limit. Jim Tankersley, the author of the article, writes that this has led to an intense debate among top economic and legal officials.

President Biden is set to meet with Speaker Kevin McCarthy on May 9 to discuss fiscal policy, but it remains unlikely a compromise can be reached in time to avoid a default. The president has consistently maintained that it is the job of Congress to raise the limit in order to avoid economically catastrophic consequences. Once again, gimmicks meant to circumvent Congress on the debt limit, such as minting a $1 trillion coin to deposit with the Federal Reserve, have surfaced.

It is clear that the federal government is barred from defaulting on the debt, while at same time, only Congress has the power to borrow. Tankersley reports that inside the administration there is an open question about what the Treasury would do if Congress does not raise the limit in time. Officials who support invoking the 14th Amendment and continuing to issue new debt apparently argue that the government would be exposed to lawsuits either way, which I think is correct. However, the right answer here is that the statutory borrowing limit is binding and that an attempt to ignore it would result in an immediate legal challenge that would likely traverse the Supreme Court's shadow docket and result in an affirmation that Congress has the exclusive power to borrow. There are no shortcuts out of this situation; the political branches, the Congress and the Executive, will have to resolve this issue between them.