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Who Will Save The Economy From The GOP's Plan To Push It Over The Fiscal Cliff?

Do Joe Biden And Hakeem Jeffries Have What It Takes?



The other day, my friend Helen called to tell me how excited she was that Laurence Tribe had written about changing his mind on how to deal with the debt ceiling. OK, sure… although aren’t most NY Times readers already there? Where? A legal theory that “builds on Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to argue that Congress, without realizing it, set itself on a path that would violate the Constitution when, in 1917, it capped the size of the federal debt. Over the years, Congress has raised the debt ceiling scores of times, most recently two years ago, when it set the cap at $31.4 trillion. We hit that amount on Jan. 19 and are being told that the ‘extraordinary measures’ Treasury has available to get around it are about to run out. When that happens, all hell will break loose. Taking advantage of that prospect, congressional Republicans are threatening to do nothing unless the administration agrees to slash lots of government programs that their party has had in its sights. If the president caves in to their demands, they will agree to raise the cap— until this crisis occurs again. Then, they will surely pursue the same game of chicken or, maybe more accurately, Russian roulette. It’s a complicated situation, but a solution is staring us in the face. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment says the “validity” of the public debt ‘shall not be questioned’— ever. Proponents of the unconstitutionality argument say that when Congress enacted the debt limit, effectively forcing the United States to stop borrowing to honor its debts when that limit was reached, it built a violation of that constitutional command into our fiscal structure, and that as a result, that limit and all that followed are invalid.”


Tribe now backs the common sense approach that most normal Americans believe, namely that “Congress— after passing the spending bills that created these debts in the first place— can invoke an arbitrary dollar limit to force the president and his administration to do its bidding. There is only one right answer to that question, and it is no. And there is only one person with the power to give Congress that answer: the president of the United States. As a practical matter, what that means is this: Biden must tell Congress in no uncertain terms— and as soon as possible, before it’s too late to avert a financial crisis— that the United States will pay all its bills as they come due, even if the Treasury Department must borrow more than Congress has said it can. [He] should remind Congress and the nation, ‘I’m bound by my oath to preserve and protect the Constitution to prevent the country from defaulting on its debts for the first time in our entire history.’ Above all, the president should say with clarity, ‘My duty faithfully to execute the laws extends to all the spending laws Congress has enacted, laws that bind whoever sits in this office— laws that Congress enacted without worrying about the statute capping the amount we can borrow.’”



Sunday, Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and professor, said the same thing on MSNBC: “I think he has that authority under these circumstances, absolutely, because the Congress has put him in a constitutionally untenable position. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment says that ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, [authorized by law] shall not be questioned.’… If he decides to default for the country, he's... violating the Constitution, because the 14th Amendment says you can't do that.”


On Monday, Philip Klein, the far right editor of the National Review, disagreed and warned his readers that “There are increasing signs pointing to President Biden warming up to the idea of invoking the 14th Amendment to simply ignore the debt ceiling and issue new debt without striking a deal with Republicans… Proponents of the strategy point to the text of the 14th Amendment.. Under a specious legal theory, this means the debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional and the president has the right, if not the duty, to simply ignore it. There are multiple issues with this theory. One is that when adopted, the purpose of the language was not to give new unilateral power to the president, but to prevent a scenario in which ex-confederates gained control of the federal government and decided to not recognize debts incurred during the Civil War.” Well… that’s kind of what did happen.


If, as is likely, Biden ignores his duty and gives in to too many Republican demands to be palatable to most non-Wall Street Democrats-- and too few to be palatable to the MAGAts-- someone’s going to have to put together an ad hoc bipartisan conservative coalition to pass it. McCarthy certainly won’t have the votes to do it himself, especially not with the Freedom Caucus whipping against it. Jennifer Haberkorn understands Gottheimer and the shriveled up Blue Dog coalition doesn’t have the votes to do it either and she wonders if Hakeem Jeffries can get it done. She pointed out that 2 years ago, Biden would have just told Pelosi to get it done and she would have. "Now it’s on Jeffries, someone the White House is still getting to know. The two only had their first known substantive meeting this past January, when Biden huddled with top Democratic leaders at the start of the new Congress. In short, the first pivotal test of his and Biden’s ability to work together could take place with the global economy on the line. And how that goes will provide an early glimpse of what Democrats hope will be the dominant partnership in Washington in 2024 if Biden wins a second term and Democrats win back the House. Not everyone in the party is sure of what to expect."


“Jeffries has done a great job so far,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a fellow New York Democrat. “We’re going to have to find common ground and collaboration; he is clear eyed about that. He’s not going to bet and risk destroying our economy or cutting things to the most vulnerable people among us.”
Bowman said he’s confident Jeffries and Biden are on the same page. And he pushed back on the idea that the new leadership role or the high-stakes fiscal standoff have put any new amount of pressure on him.
“He’s been a Black man in America his entire life. He’s had to operate in white patriarchal spaces,” he said. “It’s not always easy for people of color and women to operate in those spaces and thrive— he has done so. I’m sure his approach is: I gotta always bring my A game.”

We’ll see what happens if Biden starts giving away the store. Which is what I expect to happen.

5 Comments


Guest
May 11, 2023

If I rephrase the titular question to: Who will save the shithole from the nazis' evil? the answer is trivial. And it's the same answer to your more granular question.


nobody.


why? because you keep electing democraps. and democraps have never done "merrick garland" about anything since 1966.


you want this shithole saved? you shoulda been euthanizing the democrap party for the past 40 years. we are a shithole because you keep electing a party that won't *do* jack shit about it.

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Geez. Let’s try for some optimism and hope. If Biden refused to allow default he would go down in the history books for it. it would be a good part of his legacy. There is NO downside for him. A default would ruin us.

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Guest
May 11, 2023
Replying to

truth. but does he care about his legacy in history books... when nobody has taught history in this shithole since the '60s?

He cares about his donors. nobody else. He barely cares enough about his polling to lie (badly) to his voters. Fortunately, his voters are stupid.


optimism without reason is faith. hope in the face of the sociopolitical shithole is delusion.


and faith in the impossible is also delusion. ask the jews who lost millions of family in the holocaust.

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Biden has 3 choices:


1) Invoke 14A;

2) Reach "fiscal cliff" that will seriously imperil economy;

3) Allow GOP to (further) squeeze blood from social spending, thereby hurting the suffering and discouraging the Dem base.


I of those 3 options would assist his re-election prospects. 2 of them would hurt people and his prospects. I wish I could feel confidence about him following that option.

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Guest
May 12, 2023
Replying to

if you have no "confidence" in him doing his fucking job... why did y'all elect that hapless pussy?

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