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The debt ceiling is currently a political crisis threatening to be an economic one, and soon it could turn into a constitutional crisis.The calls are getting louder for Obama to ignore Congress and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
In a NYT op-ed, Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule liken a unilateral hike in the debt ceiling by Obama to Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of Habeus Corpus during the Civil War — a unilateral move done for the good of the country.
Paul Krugman loved Obama’s fiery press conference yesterday, and said the 14th Amendment route was the likely step forward: “Let the GOP go ahead and try to impeach: the whole world knows who’s intransigent here.”
The official position of the administration is that the 14th Amendment is not an option — Obama said so just yesterday at a town hall meeting.
Probably the most famous rebuttal comes from liberal law professor Lawrence Tribe, who wrote earlier in the NYT that this was not an option.
The Constitution grants only Congress — not the president — the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States.” Nothing in the 14th Amendment or in any other constitutional provision suggests that the president may usurp legislative power to prevent a violation of the Constitution. Moreover, it is well established that the president’s power drops to what Justice Robert H. Jackson called its “lowest ebb” when exercised against the express will of Congress.
And there’s also the question: If a country is issuing bonds under dubious legality, who would buy them?
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