Thursday, July 28, 2011

Invoke the 14th Amendment--Political Consequences Be Damned

Politico Arena Topic: Should Obama Invoke the 14th Amendment?

In the event that Congress is unable to come to agreement on a balanced deficit reduction bill or a clean bill which simple raises the debt ceiling, President Obama should absolutely utilize his unilateral powers to raise it. During George W. Bush’s presidency, Congress raised the debt ceiling seven times with little fanfare. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Congress raised the limit eighteen times. I have little doubt that Presidents Reagan or Bush would have raised the ceiling unilaterally had Congress pulled the kinds of political shenanigans we are seeing today—consequences be damned.

The president’s most important responsibility is to protect the American people—allowing the country to default on its obligations would do irreparable harm to the economy and the citizenry. The President—any president—has a duty to not let that happen. Even without the 14th Amendment, President Obama would be justified in using his prerogative powers just as Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War, and other presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and FDR did during times of crisis.

There would certainly be a political cost to using unilateral powers to end this congressionally contrived crisis; however, the costs of doing nothing would be much steeper. The House would likely move to impeach the President but even if successful, a conviction would be unlikely in the Senate where a 2/3 majority is necessary for removal. For many, President Obama would be a hero as he moved decisively to save a country held hostage by Tea Party radicals in the House of Representatives.

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