Democratic leaders are worried enough about Republican debt limit threats that they’re counseling President Obama to circumvent the entire debate by invoking untested and unconventional executive powers.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have both implored Obama to ignore the debt limit, if Republicans refuse to increase it, by citing the 14th Amendment, which holds the validity of U.S. debt essentially inviolable.
Another outside the box idea, first proposed during the 2011 debt limit fight, holds that the administration should exploit a legal loophole allowing the Treasury secretary to order the minting of platinum coins of any value and use the funds available upon deposit of those coins — likely trillions of dollars — to meet federal obligations. That idea has picked up enough enthusiasm online in recent days that Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) has introduced legislation to close the loophole.
These pressure campaigns don’t necessarily indicate that Dems are divided over how to approach the debt limit as much as it suggests they’re genuinely concerned that Republicans will actually allow the country to breach it. But a growing body of evidence, hidden in plain sight, suggests Republican leaders are coming to terms with the unsustainable nature of their threat and might not be prepared to execute it.