MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus on Twitter · Facebook · Flickr · Newsletters 
Friday, April 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Fog/Mist
Collapse Photo Bar

The debt limit and the White House

Races for the Senate, U.S. House, etc. and other issues of national importance.

If Congress can't reach an agreement, what should the Executive Branch do?

(1) Ignore the debt limit, under the rationale that it conflicts with the 14th amendment.
8
57%
(2) Unilaterally decide what obligations to pay, and what to default on.
1
7%
(3) Unilaterally raise taxes to whatever level is needed to pay obligations.
0
No votes
4) Engage in various gimmicks (e.g., trillion-dollar platinum coins).
2
14%
(5) Start issuing IOUs.
1
7%
(6) Something else (what?)
2
14%
 
Total votes : 14

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby Stella_Guru » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:01 am

kurt_w wrote: it sure seems like there ought to be some sort of fallback plan here. Right?

"Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions, that time has surely passed." President Obama, 01/20/09.
President Obama and his Republican tag-team partners do have a plan. The "unpleasant decisions" to launch an assault on the social safety net have already been made for the "narrow interests" with their "worn out dogmas."
Stella_Guru
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1157
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 7:08 pm

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby Comrade » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:57 am

I am not seeing how the 14 amendment would allow Obama to bypass Congress and raise the debt limit. It simply states that the validity of all US debt created by LAW cannot be questioned. It does not say specifically WHO has the authority to allow debt, but the word LAW clearly implies this is a duty of Congress. An executive ORDER issued by the president is not LAW by definition although it can carry the same weight as law.

I do believe that is clearly stated elsewhere that ONLY Congress can create law. The problem is that is recent years Cogress has been delegating their authority to other agencies and burerocrats which has therefore blurred the distinction between laws, regulations, and orders.

Obama administration officials would seem to agree with me and stated yesterday that the president does not believe he has the authority to bypass congress on this.
Comrade
Forum Addict
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 10:53 am

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby Endo Rockstar » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:43 pm

The Whitehouse Press briefing yesterday (1/9/12) was really interesting to watch. The Press Room asked questions, then clarifications, then more questions about the President's debt ceiling tactics to Jay Carney.

They couldn't seem to wrap their heads around the idea that the President might not be bluffing about his "no negotiations" tactic. Carney repeated ad nauseum a pretty straightforward response that the The President would not dangle anything in Congress's direction in order to get them to do their job.

Q In the past, when you've been asked what leverage he would have since he's not going to negotiate with them, you've pointed to the business community in the hopes that they would bring some pressure to bear on Republicans. Do you see that happening? Are you satisfied --

MR. CARNEY: Well, I won't speak for the business community, but I would be surprised if they -- if anybody in the world of finance or business, in this country or anywhere, would welcome the prospect of default.

Q Well, that’s not what I'm asking. Of course, they won’t want --

MR. CARNEY: So I would certainly expect that they would -- I would hope that they would make that opinion known.

Q Well, I guess what I'm asking is, other than you just standing here day after day saying the President won't negotiate and all the reasons you're giving, other than that rhetorical effort, what else are you doing, can you do to make sure that Congress lives up to the responsibility that you've outlined?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we can't --

Q Since you're not negotiating.

MR. CARNEY: Because Congress has retained for itself this responsibility and obligation, they have to act. If they want to pass it to a more willing actor, the President of the United States, he will gladly ensure that we do not default. But the fact of the matter is Congress has that responsibility and Congress has to act. We can't do it for them.

Q Right, you’ve said that. I mean --

MR. CARNEY: Right, but I'm not sure what you're saying.

Q Well, I'm asking since -- what else can you do, since you’ve ruled out negotiating, to bring pressure to bear on them? You do this all the time when you want something to happen. You call on outside actors. You try to get public opinion. Other than just standing here over and over again saying you're not going to negotiate, what else is the White House doing to try to get them to pass the debt ceiling?

MR. CARNEY: I cannot see into the future up to the point where the debt ceiling might be reached, so I can't predict everything that we will do. But it is simple common sense that -- we hope -- that leaders in Congress will not default and, in the end, they will do what is right, which is ensure that we do not default.

In the meantime, we have other important issues to resolve with Congress, other important fiscal and economic and budgetary issues to resolve with Congress, and we can address those. But negotiating over raising the debt ceiling is not in the cards.


I love this. Congress used to have a bargaining chip in these negotiations. President Obama took the simplest position which appears to be the most effective. “You wanted the job, now do the job.”

Dan Motor
Endo Rockstar
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1229
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 11:16 pm
Location: Madison

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby kurt_w » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:55 pm

Comrade wrote:I am not seeing how the 14 amendment would allow Obama to bypass Congress and raise the debt limit. It simply states that the validity of all US debt created by LAW cannot be questioned. It does not say specifically WHO has the authority to allow debt, but the word LAW clearly implies this is a duty of Congress. An executive ORDER issued by the president is not LAW by definition although it can carry the same weight as law.


I think that people who claim the 14th amendment overrides the debt ceiling limit are basically making this argument:

When Congress passes a budget mandating $X in spending and $Y in taxes, it implicitly authorizes the surplus or debt that mathematically results from the difference between $X and $Y.

In other words, if Congress says "President Obama, your agencies should spend $100 and raise $80 in taxes, but you're not allowed to borrow $20" then normally that would be a prescription for default. The 14th amendment says we're not allowed to default.

So, as I understand it, the people who argue that the debt limit should be ignored on 14th amendment grounds are either saying that it's unconstitutional, or that it's merely been superseded because when Congress authorized the $100 and the $80, they're implicitly authorizing borrowing the $20.
kurt_w
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4810
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:11 pm

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby Comrade » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:52 pm

You could be correct about that. However, there is still no authorization for the President to spend money that has not been approved by Congress through passing of a law.

That being said, I think we all share tremendous frustration with both Congress and the very poor reporting of and understanding of these events by the press. Unfortunately, the people make very poor choices when not properly informed of what is going on.
Comrade
Forum Addict
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 10:53 am

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:58 pm

I second the comment about bad reporting. We've gotten piss-poor reporting on all this fiscal stuff for months.

1) The "fiscal cliff" is made up. Nothing is going off a cliff, though if the deliberately-designed sequester kicks in plenty of people will be pinched. Whatever needs to be done to restore the nation's fiscal soundness not only CAN be done incrementally but SHOULD be.

2) Social Security can be fixed by having it apply to all wages, without a ceiling. And it's not even part of the regular budget, so why continue the pretense it is?

3) Medicare needs tweaking but it's one of the most popular government programs we have and to threaten to turn it into a voucher system would be very, very unpopular. This idea hardly bears being taken seriously.

I could go on and on, but my big question is this: are the reporters that fiscally illiterate? If not, why are they buying into these nonsensical lines of reasoning without comment?
snoqueen
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 10928
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2003 11:42 pm

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby fisticuffs » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:13 pm

I could go on and on, but my big question is this: are the reporters that fiscally illiterate? If not, why are they buying into these nonsensical lines of reasoning without comment?


It's no longer their job to do journalism. They are entertainers paid to look good and let their guests push their message.
fisticuffs
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 7738
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Slightly outside of Madison

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:25 pm

Looks like Karl Rove himself doesn't think the Republicans will force the US to default:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plu ... ling-ruse/
snoqueen
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 10928
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2003 11:42 pm

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:39 pm

snoqueen wrote:2) Social Security can be fixed by having it apply to all wages, without a ceiling.
Can you support this claim? I don't know otherwise, I'm curious to know what you've heard.
snoqueen wrote:And it's not even part of the regular budget, so why continue the pretense it is?
I think you have this backward. Social Security should be a part of the budget and it's silly to operate under the pretense that it's not part of the federal budget as is. The supposed separation is purely actuarial. It's like saying "my monthly food budget is $200 and stable, not counting my snacks budget, of course, which is growing rapidly".

snoqueen wrote:3) Medicare needs tweaking but it's one of the most popular government programs we have and to threaten to turn it into a voucher system would be very, very unpopular. This idea hardly bears being taken seriously.
Bread and circuses were popular too. Free booze and drugs might be a popular program if implemented.
ArturoBandini
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:54 pm
Location: near west

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby kurt_w » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:09 am

Comrade wrote:You could be correct about that. However, there is still no authorization for the President to spend money that has not been approved by Congress through passing of a law.


That would definitely be a violation of the separation of powers, but fortunately no one's talking about doing that. What's going on here is that Congress has specifically told the president to spend money on various things. But another piece of legislation (the debt limit) says he can't borrow money.

So there's two contradictory laws here. Unless Congress fixes this problem, the president basically is going to be forced to violate one law (the budget) or the other (the debt ceiling), just because it's mathematically impossible to follow both.

Nobody is talking about the president spending money that hasn't been authorized by Congress. The question is whether he can borrow money to pay for the spending that Congress has already required.

For some people, the most important thing is to not borrow any more money. Those people say that the president should cut off spending on some things that Congress has said we should pay for. There are two problems with this:

(1) It would mean the US government defaulting on obligations it's already incurred. For example, refusing to pay defense contractors for work they've already performed, or refusing to pay employees their wages, or yanking student loans from students who are in college, or whatever.

(2) It would give the president much more power than he's historically had. Future presidents would be able to claim that this precedent would allow them to decide what acts of Congress they want to obey and what they want to ignore. History shows that once the president has gained additional powers, future presidents pretty much never give them up. So that's a dangerous precedent to set.

But, in any case, the president is not going to be spending money that hasn't been approved by Congress. The only question is how he's going to pay for the spending that Congress has already written into law, or whether he would perhaps delay or cancel spending that Congress has required.
kurt_w
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4810
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:11 pm

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby fennel » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:34 am

Kurt's overview jibes with Krugman's: Coins Against Crazies.
fennel
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3000
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 4:24 pm
Location: Inside the Green Zone, Madison

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:42 am

I'm usually a huge critic of the president, but I think he's right to just pass the buck to Congress. Let them do their job. The most important thing his team should do is to reiterate the roles of president and congress.

snoqueen wrote:2) Social Security can be fixed by having it apply to all wages, without a ceiling. And it's not even part of the regular budget, so why continue the pretense it is?

SS is inexorably linked to the budget. How do you mean it's "not part of it?" Benefits are paid from SS payroll taxes and the current surplus is added to the regular federal budget income. The "crisis" down the road will come when SS payroll taxes no longer cover benefits and the federal government has to either raise taxes, borrow to cover it, or adjust benefit levels or the retirement age.
green union terrace chair
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2802
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2005 3:33 pm
Location: Memorial Union

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:52 am

green union terrace chair wrote:I'm usually a huge critic of the president, but I think he's right to just pass the buck to Congress. Let them do their job.


Exactly. From Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives..."
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 19153
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby Comrade » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:34 pm

OK that makes sense how it was explained by Kurt. I agree that puts him in a bad position. However, it is three laws that have to be dealt with instead of just the debt ceiling law and the spending laws. You also have the 14th amendment. Therefore, the precedent would be to not spend what is in excess of the debt limit. Were Congress to take no action, there would be a government shutdown like we had back in 95 or 96.

IF we don't want this, (and I don't think we do) then all of us should petition Congress to do their jobs. I mean really lean on those idiots.

Personally, I think that both Boehner and Reid should both be removed from their leadership positions. During the fiscal cliff nightmare, BOTH proved incapable of working with others and we really need that. The ability to work with others is after all a fundemental part of their job. It should not have had to take Biden and McConnel to step in to get that done. Anyone else outside of politics that failed in their job like these two did in such a public way would be fired.
Comrade
Forum Addict
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 10:53 am

Re: The debt limit and the White House

Postby kurt_w » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:01 pm

... over to the next page ...
Last edited by kurt_w on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
kurt_w
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4810
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:11 pm

PreviousNext

Return to National Politics & Government

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Jeerleader, MSNbot Media and 1 guest

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


FacebookcommentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar