The top four Senate Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to “take any lawful steps” to work around the debt ceiling if Congressional Republicans refuse to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.In a letter to Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Dick Durbin, Patty Murray and Chuck Schumer tell Obama to consider unilaterally raising the debt ceiling even in the case of “an unbalanced or unreasonable legislation.”
“We believe that you must make clear that you will never allow our nation’s economy and reputation to be held hostage,” the four Senators write in the letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent and provided by a Democratic source.
“In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension as part of an unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promise and trigger a global economic crisis — without Congressional approval, if necessary.”
The two options being thrown around most commonly for Obama to work around the debt ceiling are the 14th amendment and the option of minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin.
The 14th amendment states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorised by law…shall not be questioned.” Supporters of that route argue that since the debt cannot be questioned, the debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional. But the White House has said that it does not view it as a work-around solution.
The idea of minting a trillion-dollar coin, meanwhile, has gained traction in the past week. That option would allow the Treasury to temporarily print money to pay the country’s bills and work around the debt ceiling. It has turned into a Twitter campaign (#MintTheCoin), and supporters have created a petition urging the White House to mint it. The White House did not completely brush aside that possibility on Wednesday.
In Washington, Sargent writes that Democrats view the 14th amendment as a more politically feasible option, the same thing we’re hearing. One Democratic Senate aide recently said that minting the coin would look silly politically, and that the 14th amendment is a much more practical option.
Here’s the full letter:
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