Democratic leaders in the Senate on Friday urged President Obama to consider bypassing Congress to prevent the nation from defaulting on its spending obligations if lawmakers cannot agree to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling next month.
In a joint letter that served as a warning to congressional Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and his leadership team encouraged Obama to “take any lawful steps” to avoid default — “without Congressional approval, if necessary.” ...WaPo
And the sooner the better. Looks as though Congressional Republicans have latched onto an effort to turn government debt/deficit into the creation of a Democratic administration -- the credit card debt "belongs" to the Democrats.
“The Democrat leadership hiding under their desks and hoping the President will find a way around the law on the nation’s maxed-out credit card is not only the height of irresponsibility, but also a guarantee that our national debt crisis will only get worse,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a statement. ...WaPo
The 14th Amendment offers a way out.
The amendment holds that the validity of the country’s public debt “shall not be questioned.” Some constitutional experts believe that statement means that Congress cannot tie the government’s hands to borrow funds to meet obligations the government has already incurred.
The White House has indicated that Obama does not believe the Constitution gives him the right to ignore the congressionally imposed limit on borrowing. ...WaPo
So that leaves the platinum coin, a fitting, magical response to the Republicans' fake fiscal cliff. It has the additional benefit of driving Republicans nuts! What they want -- badly! -- is to fix the blame for national debt onto the shoulders of Democratic administrations. The notion of profligate Democrats has lingered around DC for years. The idea is, of course, that if they repeat it often enough, the responsibility for national debt will shift parties.
(The average rise in government debt looks like this over the past thirty years: Reagan 1st term: 8.7%, Reagan 2nd term: 4.9%, Bush I: 5.4%, Clinton 1st term: 3.2%, Clinton 2nd term: 3.9%, Bush II 1st term, 7.3%, Bush II 2nd term: 8.1%, Obama 1st term: 1.4% . Those figures come from Marketplace, among other sources. Debt is clearly not a Democratic issue.)
Reminder from Pew Research: "Barack Obama is viewed as the clear political winner in the fiscal cliff negotiations, but the legislation itself gets only a lukewarm reception from the public..."
Even the business community -- the rightwing US Chamber of Commerce! -- is getting on the GOP's case about their behavior.
Another key moment in the debt ceiling fight: On MSNBC this morning, the head of the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on Republicans to stop using the threat of default to get the spending cuts they want.
Chamber president Tom Donohue didn’t do this quite as directly as he might have, but the plain meaning was clear. This is significant, because in doing this, he went further than other business leaders, who have merely issued a general call for a hike in the debt ceiling without pointing a finger at Republican debt ceiling hostage taking. Donohue, by contrast, said he wants to see a stop to the tactic of using the debt ceiling as leverage. ...
... Donohue said he thought mounting debt and entitlements could also damage the economy long term. Then he added: “I think we have to let the folks up on the Hill use the assets they have while at the same time trying to tell them that using the debt is the least desirable of those.”
This is a key quote. The head of the Chamber, one of the most powerful GOP-aligned interest groups in the country, is essentially saying that using the debt ceiling as leverage to force spending cuts has to stop. This comes after the Financial Services Roundtable, the Business Roundtable, and other business groups all are insisting more generally on a debt ceiling hike. ...Greg Sargent, WaPo