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Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

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  • Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

    According to section 4 of the 14th amendment

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
    I included the entire section, but to my views only the bold section is valid to this discussion, so lets look at that alone..

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
    Wouldn't not raising the debt ceiling and thus not being able to meet our debts be in essence questioning the validity of the debt? I don't believe it would require the "greatest legal mind of our generation" to successfully argue this case in front of the supreme court, especially with this supreme court who prefers a plain text reading of our constitution. I've heard the president doesn't think it would be legal for him to unilaterally raise the debt, but I personally feel the democratic party doesn't want to set a precedent that could be used against them down the road so he will say that.

    Since all our current public debt has been authorized by congress, it is authorized by law. If we don't raise the debt ceiling, we won't be able to pay all of our current debts, which clearly is not allowed under the constitution.

    I'm curious what everyone else thinks, but if you would be so kind could you answer me two questions? I'll put my answers after..

    1)Legally do you feel the president has the power to raise the debt limit unilaterally based on the wording I quoted above?

    2)Do you think in the end this would be good for the country?


    My views:

    1)Yes, the constitution seems to be worded so as to not allow us to shirk our legally obtained debts. Meeting our lawful obligations (which our debt obviously is, whether you like the debt or not) is paramount.

    2)I am not crazy about the precedent, but this is the first time ever I remember the US getting this close to defaulting on our debt, so I'm not entirely positive it really matters whether congress approves a higher debt ceiling or not. Congress approves the budget of the US, so all our debts have already gone through the approval process. I can't see any potential hurdles down the road for this. I think this current situations speaks more about the pitfalls of our particular form of politics more then anything else.

  • #2
    Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

    I think this discussion has more to do with "Does the President have the "Guts" to raise the debt ceiling and let it play out in court down the road, rather then the power to... He has been voting "Present" for this entire thing... Time to Man up and not worry about how it will look politically next year...

    What's the term 'Better to ask for Forgiveness, then permission..." ... Although I am against raising the ceiling without substantial cuts across the board (even though my stocks are killing me now..and will be worse down the road I am sure).
    |TG|ARMA Pathfinder
    ..now where did I put my keys?

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    • #3
      Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

      You've got it backward slightly morganan. Defaulting on the debt doesnt mean that the validity of the debt is in question. The debt is still absolutely valid. It simply means that we dont have the means to make the required payments on that debt. Simple real world analogy: you max out your credit card and dont have the cash to make the payments. It doesnt call into question the validity of the money you owe, only the thinking behind borrowing more money than you can pay off.

      Similarly, raising the debt ceiling doesnt call into question the validity of the debt either. That debt is still valid. Again, the credit card analogy: you just got your limit raised when you were a dollar away from maxing it out, so now you've got a little breathing room to figure out how the hell to pay off your massive bill.

      So I believe that answers question 1. To the second question: the alternative is facing a possible global financial collapse, loss of major benefits, extreme inflation of Great Depression-esque values. So yes, its warranted. However, as we did when the same thing happened in the 80s, we have to reign in our horses and start playing a smarter ballgame.

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      • #4
        Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

        Invest in gold!.

        I deserve a ribbon for Mortar Specialist

        Artillery conquers and infantry occupies.
        J.F.C. Fuller

        Proud to have been a member of the 5th, 71st and my beloved 19th

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        • #5
          Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

          ...extreme inflation of Great Depression-esque values...
          Technically it was a deflationary spiral following Fed polices in the 1920s. This time around its the opposite situation. The Fed is printing tens of trillions of dollars to support Congress's spending, and propping up banks all over the globe. Raising the debt ceiling merely postpones the the day of reckoning. Like someone who's maxed out their credit card, these depreciating dollars are used to just pay the interest payments to our creditors, bond holders, and the interest to the Fed itself on the national debt. Congress needs to get serious about drastically cutting spending, raising revenue, and balancing the budget to re-establish waning confidence in treasuries and the dollar. If it comes to the point where our treasuries reach the level of junk bonds, the only answer to pick up the slack is inflation. Hyperinflation becomes a real concern at that point.

          The responsibility lies with Congress. The president should speed our withdrawl from Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Invest in gold!.
          Couldn't hurt. I don't think its a bubble since I don't see the U.S. getting its financial house in order. The euro isn't looking like the best option either. Paper currencies in general really. IIRC, China is backing its yuan with gold and silver, platinum and palladium. They're going to be the (long term) beneficiaries of our default and the fall of the dollar. If we do default, the pain is going to be severe around the globe since we've been the bedrock of the global financial system for 60 years.
          Last edited by aeroripper; 07-29-2011, 01:52 AM.
          Like the server? Become a regular! TGNS Required Reading
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          • #6
            Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

            Simple Solution: Stop paying congress. Stop paying the president. ETC ETC. Stop paying public servants to serve us....

            Very simplistic, I know, and probably wouldn't scrape the surface but it's a start.
            Skud


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            • #7
              Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

              The US has never once defaulted before. Many many other first world countries have, including Canada our neighbors up north. The truth is because of that simple one fact is why the US sells so many bonds. We've got incredible credit to our name regardless of any debt we accrue. Defaulting would destroy our reputation and make things much much worse.

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              • #8
                Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

                That just means we have to pay our debts. Keeping the current debt ceiling would violate the amendment. We would still be obligated to pay the bills.

                The question is what would the Supreme court say if we decided not to pay the bills? Most of the bills are required by lay. Social security is a law. Contracts (military suppliers etc) are backed by law. Medicare is a law.

                So if we did not allow the debt ceiling to increase and couldn't borrow more what would the courts say?

                I think we would first stop payments to all things not required by law. Don't know what those are. But I suspect one thing is military personnel would be reduced if the president allowed it. Or maybe a draft would be imposed. Maybe the courts would force more taxes be collected until the congress changed all the laws.

                Don't know. It would be messy and I personally would prefer to live in a third world country if it got to that.
                Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Could the 14th Amendment settle the debt ceiling discussion?

                  That just means we have to pay our debts. Keeping the current debt ceiling would violate the amendment. We would still be obligated to pay the bills.

                  The question is what would the Supreme court say if we decided not to pay the bills? Most of the bills are required by lay. Social security is a law. Contracts (military suppliers etc) are backed by law. Medicare is a law.

                  So if we did not allow the debt ceiling to increase and couldn't borrow more what would the courts say?

                  I think we would first stop payments to all things not required by law. Don't know what those are. But I suspect one thing is military personnel would be reduced if the president allowed it. Or maybe a draft would be imposed. Maybe the courts would force more taxes be collected until the congress changed all the laws.

                  Don't know. It would be messy and I personally would prefer to live in a third world country if it got to that.
                  Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                  - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                  - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                  - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                  - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                  - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                  - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                  Comment

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