Jack Balkin

As Republicans continue to play chicken with the nation’s solvency, the idea that the president doesn’t need congressional approval to raise the debt ceiling is gaining traction. The thought bubble suggests that President Obama can raise the debt ceiling because of language in the Fourteenth Amendment stating that the nation’s debt “shall not be questioned.”

The idea has been trumpeted by none other than former president Bill Clinton. Clinton said that he would unilaterally raise the debt ceiling and “force the courts to stop me.”

Of course, President Clinton had what the scientists call “balls.” He knew how to handle a group of intractable Republicans more concerned with scoring political points than governing.

President Obama? The New York Times has his response: “I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”

Can Aaron Sorkin please write a “Let Obama Be Obama” episode? Because sometimes Barack Obama really likes to dangle his feet in the water of whatever the hell it is he dangles his feet in, when he wants to make it look like he’s trying without pissing too many people off.

In any event, is invoking Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment a “winning” argument that could solve this debt crisis?

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