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Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:30 PM

Top Senate Dems to White House: If you unilaterally raise debt ceiling, we’ve got your back

In a move that will significantly ratchet up the brinksmanship around the debt ceiling, the four members of the Senate Democratic leadership are privately telling the White House that they will give Obama full support if he opts for a unilateral solution to the debt ceiling crisis, a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells me.
The four Democratic leaders — Senators Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Patty Murray — have privately reached agreement that continued GOP intransigence on the debt ceiling means the White House needs the space to pursue options for raising it that don’t involve Congress, and that the White House needs to know that Dems will support whatever it decides to do.
In a letter to the White House signed by the four leaders that will soon be made public — and was sent over by a source — the Democrats say:
“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.”
That’s key, because it means top Dems will support a unilateral executive resolution to the crisis even in response to a legislative solution passed by House Republicans that they deem unacceptable — such as a bill that contains a debt ceiling hike and only spending cuts.
The top Democrats have not settled on any preference for any particular unilateral action Obama might take. They are making a “balance of power” argument to the White House, indicating that they are fully supportive of the idea that the executive branch has the power to resolve the situation as it sees fit.

Obama’s two leading choices are the 14th amendment option, under which the president claims the power to ignore the debt ceiling, and the “platinum coin” option, under which Treasury mints one and deposits in the Federal Reserve, enabling the country to continue paying its debts.
The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim recently reported that Harry Reid, in particular, has privately raised the 14th amendment option with the president, and that Reid has not ruled out support for any other unilateral options.
Now the entire Senate Democratic leadership is uniting behind an even sharper message to the White House, the aide tells me. “If the White House concludes any given option is lawful, the Democratic leadership would support it,” the aide says.
The White House has said it doesn’t believe the 14th amendment option is legal, and has refused to engage on the question of whether it sees the coin as a viable option, saying only that there is “no Plan B” and that the onus is on Congress to raise the debt limit.
The aide tells me, however, that top Senate Democrats see the 14th amendment option as far preferable politically to the coin. “Of the available options, the coin, on its face, is politically much worse than the others,” he said. “Whatever the legal arguments for and against it, the imagery will be difficult to combat. What better symbol of out-of-control government spending could you have than a trillion dollar coin?”
In a general sense, the decision by top Dems to signal unified support for a unilateral option, should the White House opt for one, is all about maintaining leverage. The idea is to counter the continued GOP claim that new revenues are off the table by signaling clearly that Dems are prepared to activate a fallback option — meaning that in the end, Republicans are not in control of the battle’s outcome.


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Reply Top Senate Dems to White House: If you unilaterally raise debt ceiling, we’ve got your back (Original post)
octoberlib Jan 2013 OP
TheProgressive Jan 2013 #1
PoliticAverse Jan 2013 #4
TheProgressive Jan 2013 #6
freshwest Jan 2013 #2
John2 Jan 2013 #11
freshwest Jan 2013 #12
LiberalFighter Jan 2013 #3
LoisB Jan 2013 #5
great white snark Jan 2013 #8
former9thward Jan 2013 #9
LiberalFighter Jan 2013 #10
former9thward Jan 2013 #13
Cha Jan 2013 #7

Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 04:45 PM

1. The 14th Amendment is my preferred remedy should Republicans hold America hostage


First, I would say that the debt ceiling act is unconstitutional.

Independent of that, if the Republicans threaten to or actually not
raise the debt ceiling, then the President of the United States, President
Obama *must* act to prevent the economic destruction of the USA. And citing
the 14th Amendment is exactly the reason why 1) the debt ceiling is illegal and
2) what Obama can use to basically tell the Republicans to pound sand.

Imagine if our House was infiltrated by say the Chinese or Russians or whoever
operatives whose sole missions was to destroy America's financial structure. A
President *Must* prevent it.

Use the 14th.

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Response to TheProgressive (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 06:22 PM

4. "First, I would say that the debt ceiling act is unconstitutional."

For an opinion on the constitutionality see this article by Obama's mentor and legal scholar
Laurence Tribe:

A Ceiling We Can’t Wish Away: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/opinion/08tribe.html?_r=0

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:04 PM

6. The opinion piece you cite is interesting...


Debates about the Constitution are numerous. That is why there is an
entire 'industry' of Constitutional scholars...

If I were President and the republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless their demands are met, and thus
jeopardizing the good faith and credit of the United States, I would invoke the 14th
Amendment to insure the good faith and credit of the US and take my chances.

You cannot sit there as president and say 'well, I can't do anything and I cannot set the
precedence that we give in to hostage taker's demands'. Who is to say that their demands
would not destroy the United States in the same way refusing to raise the debt ceiling would

I think that indeed we need to bring the debt ceiling act to the Supreme Court and have it rendered
unconstitutional. We cannot have 'land mine' laws that can destroy our country just because a rouge
Congress refuses to act.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:36 PM

2. While appealing to the folks back home, both solutions might run into problems.

The 14th Amendment solution might end up in the Supreme Court who could define it according their strict constructionist ideologues and not allow it. That might default the 'full faith and credit' of the Government and a meltdown.

The Koches' Tea Party is has been orgasmic about this since 2010. It would be the culmination of their apocalyptic prophecies which they could make come true, proving themselves right.

IDK, but it could mean a return to the gold or silver standard instead of a national treasury bill, as pushed by Beck and Jones and other wingnuts and the Saudis who demand gold. But in real life, of course, it would result in tribalism and rule by the gun - their other wet dream.

The minting of the platinum coin, the wiping out of the debt structure, has problems. The web of connections nationally and globally are based on these agreements having tangible meanings, not easily given up on.

It could be seen as what third world countries have done, tossing out all foreigners and their money, and bootstrapping their nation. Some people think this would be a jubilee for the whole planet and it seems to be magical thinking. But there were many deaths, chaos and further stratification of society as things sorted out, which benefitted the owners of land and resources.

In the long run, there was no victory for the poor or middle class. Those are the gifts of highly regulated social democracies, which a default would bankrupt - perhaps.

The minting of the coin appears so frivolous, that it might signal foreign investors that we are not serious about paying them back what they gave us and they will demand payment in kind, which I think the Chinese have already wisely done to us, taking resources and property.

They say they don't want us to default, that we are a good investment - what that really means, IDK but they have put up with what appear to be a lot of shenanigans from us - but as I said, not without getting something back for it.

I think either of these solutions, instead of getting to the down and dirty of negotiating with the Tea Party terrorists who represent at least sixty million voters and their families - will hurt the nation's credit worthiness, again, as they did in 2011. So Obama and the Democratic Party will walk with care through the biggest potential since the stock market crash of 1929, which took a few years.

I like to see the Dems supporting Obama and his cause is just. Let's see what happens.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:50 PM

11. I will make this


argument to you on the basis of what Abraham Lincoln did to the chief Supreme Court Justice during the Civil War when he got involved in an argument between the Congress and the Executive Branch. President Obama has a similar situation. The Senate is part of Congress and the argument is based on a political fight. The House may have the choice to try to impeach the President but it is only the Senate can convict the president if the House or Supreme Court deems the President violates the Constitution. So the Supreme Court's Decision is irrelevant in this case. It was the same with President Clinton when the Republican House tried to impeach Clinton. As long as President Obama has the backing of his Party and the Senate, the House and Supreme Court are impedent in this case. President Obama also has the majority of the country behind him regardless of the obstructionists in the Republican Party. He needs to evaluate the state of affairs in this environment.

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Response to John2 (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 10:22 PM

12. That all sounds valid. Here are some threads why it may or may not work:

If you want to take the time, here are threads that agree with your view:



But these say no, which made me think it was not going to work. Or perhaps I have a perchant for doing things the hard way. And Obama didn't use it last year, citing they decided it would not work. Some of these go into the powers of the USSC and Congress:





I appreciate your post with the historical reference, I could agree, but I'm not sure because there is so much disagreement here. Although Obama clearly used the exact language of the 14th, I can't imagine what our creditors would do if he did invoke it in the web of finances we have now.

I wonder what it would do to the value of the dollar - creating inflation as it has in countries that did not pay their debt. It might be less dangerous than the platinum coin gambit.

Perhaps this is all nothing but grandstanding to scare the US HoR. What strange days we are living in.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:58 PM

3. How could the WH not see the 14th amendment as legal?

It can be argued that any debt ceiling statute is unconstitutional and therefore void. Considering that the Congress has already authorized expenditures via legislation passed why do they need to reauthorize it again. Which is nothing more than a tool for them to stop something if they couldn't get it stopped the first time.

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 07:01 PM

5. He sees it. He is just so intent on bi-partisanship, he wants to work with the Rethugs even though

they have made it very clear they don't want to (and won't) work with him.

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Response to LoisB (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:47 PM

8. Not bi-partisanship. He said he's weary of Executive Branch's power grab.

One branch's power superior.

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:16 PM

9. The 14th A applies to debt not the debt ceiling.

No one questions the debt of the U.S. -- the issue is how to pay for it. Borrowing is one way but not the only way. The debt ceiling is a cap on borrowing just like you probably have a cap on your credit card. Other ways to pay would be increasing revenues,selling assets or cutting spending. I think the Pentagon budget is very bloated and the entire debt 'crisis' would disappear with cuts in that area.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:38 PM

10. Bull! They are one and the same.

Congress authorized the spending. If they don't want the money borrowed to pay for the spending then they shouldn't authorize it.

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Response to LiberalFighter (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:23 PM

13. No they aren't.

If you budget to spend $3000 a month and you only have $2000 a month coming in you have several choices. You can get another job which gives more or extra income, you can put some on a credit card (borrowing) or you can cut your budget. Or you can do a combination of those things. Congress is exactly the same. There are several alternatives. Borrowing is just one of them.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 08:09 PM

7. As I said in another post on this.. Let them

piss, moan, whine, scream, etc, etc, etc.. They damn well DO ANYWAY

Thanks octoberlib.. It's good to know the Senate Dem Leaders have the President's back on this.. We're at war with an enemy of the state.

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