Does the 14th Amendment allow the President to raise the debt ceiling?

July 12, 2011

If the debt ceiling is not raised by early August, some are arguing that the President has legal authority to use the so-called “constitutional option” to require that the debts of the United States be paid.

Where does this idea come from?  Section four of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:  “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law…shall not be questioned.”

A Fiscal Times column urged the President to use such an option.

Republicans are playing not just with fire, but the financial equivalent of nuclear weapons. Perhaps at one time when the federal debt was owned entirely by Americans we could afford to take a chance on debt default because the consequences would only be internal. But today, more than half of the privately held public debt is owed to foreigners.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation labeled such a move a “devious and dangerous 14th Amendment ploy.”

This constitutional debate now seems mute because according to a New York Times piece last Thursday, Treasury Secretary Geithner told lawmakers the Administration believes it doesn’t have the power to raise the debt limit under the Constitution.

Geithner told the lawmakers the White House did not believe it had the authority, under the Constitution, to continue issuing debt if it reached the debt ceiling. Nobody in the room disputed Mr. Geithner’s bleak assessment, the officials said.

Hopefully the Administration won’t have to even consider this. Washington must put partisan politics aside and come to a timely agreement on the debt ceiling.

 

Tags:, , , , ,

18 Responses to Does the 14th Amendment allow the President to raise the debt ceiling?

  1. James Felber says:

    The United Stages is obligated to pay our debts. We currently have sufficient revenue to pay debts. If congress fails to appropriate money for our debts the president is still obligated to pay them.

    That is not what this whole debate is about. Liberals think social promises we have made to ourselves are debts, they are not. They are unfunded promises only.

    The rhetoric that makes me upset is the President says he will pay those unfunded promises and let us default on our debt unless congress raises the debt ceiling.

  2. James Felber says:

    The United Stages is obligated to pay our debts. We currently have sufficient revenue to pay debts. If congress fails to appropriate money for our debts the president is still obligated to pay them.

    That is not what this whole debate is about. Liberals think social promises we have made to ourselves are debts, they are not. They are unfunded promises only.

    The rhetoric that makes me upset is the President says he will pay those unfunded promises and let us default on our debt unless congress raises the debt ceiling.

  3. James Felber says:

    The United Stages is obligated to pay our debts. We currently have sufficient revenue to pay debts. If congress fails to appropriate money for our debts the president is still obligated to pay them.

    That is not what this whole debate is about. Liberals think social promises we have made to ourselves are debts, they are not. They are unfunded promises only.

    The rhetoric that makes me upset is the President says he will pay those unfunded promises and let us default on our debt unless congress raises the debt ceiling.

  4. Richard Conklin says:

    The President absolutely has the power, under the 14th Amendment, to raise the debt ceiling to pay our bills. He needs to hitch his jock strap a little tighter, and stand up in front of Congress and tell them that he will do so if they cannot come to a reasonable compromise that does not pay for the deficit off the backs of the middle and lower classes. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all social safety nets that must remain in place if we are to be respected as a nation and a people. The Social Security trust fund and Medicare are both programs that we all have paid into with every paycheck we ever earned. The fact that past Congresses have raided those funds and replaced them with Federal notes is not our problem. Congress now needs to find the money to re-fund these programs, as well as continue to fund Medicaid. The obvious place to get that money is from the top 2% of this country who control 90% of the wealth. Tax the wealthy, close the loopholes, stop the handouts and subsidies to big oil and agribusiness, and we will pay off the deficit in record time. Stand firm, Mr. President. Invoke the powers implicit in the 14th Amendment. The people of this country will stand with you.

  5. Richard Conklin says:

    The President absolutely has the power, under the 14th Amendment, to raise the debt ceiling to pay our bills. He needs to hitch his jock strap a little tighter, and stand up in front of Congress and tell them that he will do so if they cannot come to a reasonable compromise that does not pay for the deficit off the backs of the middle and lower classes. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all social safety nets that must remain in place if we are to be respected as a nation and a people. The Social Security trust fund and Medicare are both programs that we all have paid into with every paycheck we ever earned. The fact that past Congresses have raided those funds and replaced them with Federal notes is not our problem. Congress now needs to find the money to re-fund these programs, as well as continue to fund Medicaid. The obvious place to get that money is from the top 2% of this country who control 90% of the wealth. Tax the wealthy, close the loopholes, stop the handouts and subsidies to big oil and agribusiness, and we will pay off the deficit in record time. Stand firm, Mr. President. Invoke the powers implicit in the 14th Amendment. The people of this country will stand with you.

  6. Richard Conklin says:

    The President absolutely has the power, under the 14th Amendment, to raise the debt ceiling to pay our bills. He needs to hitch his jock strap a little tighter, and stand up in front of Congress and tell them that he will do so if they cannot come to a reasonable compromise that does not pay for the deficit off the backs of the middle and lower classes. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all social safety nets that must remain in place if we are to be respected as a nation and a people. The Social Security trust fund and Medicare are both programs that we all have paid into with every paycheck we ever earned. The fact that past Congresses have raided those funds and replaced them with Federal notes is not our problem. Congress now needs to find the money to re-fund these programs, as well as continue to fund Medicaid. The obvious place to get that money is from the top 2% of this country who control 90% of the wealth. Tax the wealthy, close the loopholes, stop the handouts and subsidies to big oil and agribusiness, and we will pay off the deficit in record time. Stand firm, Mr. President. Invoke the powers implicit in the 14th Amendment. The people of this country will stand with you.

  7. Jclark318 says:

    Richard Connklin – I will buy you a copy of the Constitution so that you can read it and learn something. I promise you it will be time better spent than reading the Media Matters talking points as you highlighted in your post. I challenge anyone to look up the 14th Amendment and read section four….then take the ten seconds out of your lives to read section five (gasp…read the whole Amendment!) Section five clearly, unequivocally, absolutely gives CONGRESS the power to enforce the provisions highlighted in this Amendment. The thought that the President can unilaterally raise the debt ceiling is a farce created by a half-reading of the Amendment with proclamations regarding an incorrect, incomplete interpretation. I don’t give a rip about republicans or democrats – but I do care about the Constitution, and when these politicians that supposedly swore and oath to defend it begin to manipulate it for political purposes then all bets are off. One would think that the chair of the Harvard Law Review would at least learn how to read a full Amendment while spending 3 years in law school. I suppose not.

  8. Jclark318 says:

    Richard Connklin – I will buy you a copy of the Constitution so that you can read it and learn something. I promise you it will be time better spent than reading the Media Matters talking points as you highlighted in your post. I challenge anyone to look up the 14th Amendment and read section four….then take the ten seconds out of your lives to read section five (gasp…read the whole Amendment!) Section five clearly, unequivocally, absolutely gives CONGRESS the power to enforce the provisions highlighted in this Amendment. The thought that the President can unilaterally raise the debt ceiling is a farce created by a half-reading of the Amendment with proclamations regarding an incorrect, incomplete interpretation. I don’t give a rip about republicans or democrats – but I do care about the Constitution, and when these politicians that supposedly swore and oath to defend it begin to manipulate it for political purposes then all bets are off. One would think that the chair of the Harvard Law Review would at least learn how to read a full Amendment while spending 3 years in law school. I suppose not.

  9. Jclark318 says:

    Richard Connklin – I will buy you a copy of the Constitution so that you can read it and learn something. I promise you it will be time better spent than reading the Media Matters talking points as you highlighted in your post. I challenge anyone to look up the 14th Amendment and read section four….then take the ten seconds out of your lives to read section five (gasp…read the whole Amendment!) Section five clearly, unequivocally, absolutely gives CONGRESS the power to enforce the provisions highlighted in this Amendment. The thought that the President can unilaterally raise the debt ceiling is a farce created by a half-reading of the Amendment with proclamations regarding an incorrect, incomplete interpretation. I don’t give a rip about republicans or democrats – but I do care about the Constitution, and when these politicians that supposedly swore and oath to defend it begin to manipulate it for political purposes then all bets are off. One would think that the chair of the Harvard Law Review would at least learn how to read a full Amendment while spending 3 years in law school. I suppose not.

  10. Justiceleague says:

    If congress are so against helping this country because of race issues thats their delemna. However, if you have no other choice but to use the 14th Amendment, then take the Big 3 out of the bargaining table. Let those Tea Party hostage takers bring something to the table such as tax hikes for the rich. GOD BLESS AMERICA FROM ALL TERRORIST BOTH NEAR AND FAR.

  11. Justiceleague says:

    If congress are so against helping this country because of race issues thats their delemna. However, if you have no other choice but to use the 14th Amendment, then take the Big 3 out of the bargaining table. Let those Tea Party hostage takers bring something to the table such as tax hikes for the rich. GOD BLESS AMERICA FROM ALL TERRORIST BOTH NEAR AND FAR.

  12. Justiceleague says:

    If congress are so against helping this country because of race issues thats their delemna. However, if you have no other choice but to use the 14th Amendment, then take the Big 3 out of the bargaining table. Let those Tea Party hostage takers bring something to the table such as tax hikes for the rich. GOD BLESS AMERICA FROM ALL TERRORIST BOTH NEAR AND FAR.

  13. SteveinCA says:

    Jclark318

    In responding to Richard Conklin, you said:

    One would think that the chair of the Harvard Law Review would at least learn how to read a full Amendment while spending 3 years in law school. I suppose not.

    What makes you think the President shares Richard Conklin’s view? DId he say that? I must have missed that. I thought he said the opposite, and that his Press Secretary has repeatedly said the opposite, i.e., that he doens’t have the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own. O

  14. SteveinCA says:

    Jclark318

    In responding to Richard Conklin, you said:

    One would think that the chair of the Harvard Law Review would at least learn how to read a full Amendment while spending 3 years in law school. I suppose not.

    What makes you think the President shares Richard Conklin’s view? DId he say that? I must have missed that. I thought he said the opposite, and that his Press Secretary has repeatedly said the opposite, i.e., that he doens’t have the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own. O

  15. SteveinCA says:

    Jclark318

    In responding to Richard Conklin, you said:

    One would think that the chair of the Harvard Law Review would at least learn how to read a full Amendment while spending 3 years in law school. I suppose not.

    What makes you think the President shares Richard Conklin’s view? DId he say that? I must have missed that. I thought he said the opposite, and that his Press Secretary has repeatedly said the opposite, i.e., that he doens’t have the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own. O

  16. tbb18 says:

    Mr. President just do it

  17. tbb18 says:

    Mr. President just do it

  18. tbb18 says:

    Mr. President just do it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *