- President Barack Obama
If Congress fails to raise the debt limit by Oct. 17, could President Barack Obama step in and raise the ceiling by executive action?
Greg Valliere, chief political strategist for Potomac Research Group, says Obama would do so, if faced with the prospect of a certain default on paying the nation’s creditors.
“I am not flat out saying that [executive fiat] is the end game, but it has to be on the table if a default looks imminent,” Valliere said in an interview with MarketWatch.
During the last debt ceiling showdown in the summer of 2011, there were scholars and senators who suggested Obama did have such a silver bullet — the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
None other than former President Bill Clinton agreed.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2011, Clinton said Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment “without hesitation” to raise the debt ceiling and “force the courts to stop me.”
The provision in question, Section 4 of the amendment, says that the validity of the public debt “shall not be questioned.”
Laurence Tribe, a noted professor of constitutional law at Harvard, tried at the time to throw cold water on such arguments.
In an op-ed in the Times, Tribe said that only Congress has the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. Arguments that the president may do whatever is necessary to avoid default “has no logical stopping point,” Tribe noted.
In addition, a legal cloud would hang over any newly issued bonds, Tribe said, because of the risk that the government might refuse to honor those debts as legitimate.
Back in 2011, Obama and administration officials shied away from the suggestion he could act unilaterally.
But Valliere noted that times have changed, with Obama now in his second term in office.
“Obama has fewer constraints,” Valliere said.
— Greg Robb
Follow Greg on Twitter @grobb2000
Follow Capitol Report @capitolreport
Source: Market Watch