The new Democrat talking point is that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Article 4, gives the president the right to raise the debt ceiling to ensure the debt gets paid — the nuclear option! Here’s what that article says:
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for the payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
The 14th amendment came about as a result of the Civil War, making all persons born in the US naturalized citizens, and ensuring that no citizen was denied due process. It also guaranteed to the nation’s debtors that the borrowing we’d incurred during the course of the war would be repaid.
So much for the back story. Let’s look at the actual amendment. It says that the US will pay all debts that have been authorized by law (and Congress makes the laws). Nowhere does it say that the US will and must take on new debt. The only way this article could possibly be construed as mandating more borrowing (i.e. raising the debt ceiling) by the executive branch, is if we needed to borrow more money to pay off old debt. This is sometimes known in financial circles as “kiting,” and it would be a sad state of affairs if the US did, indeed, need to do kite money to pay our bills.
Fortunately, we don’t.
Our current debt payments come to less than 10% of the tax revenue we take in. What this amendment actually does, should the debt limit not be raised, is force the Treasury to pay the debt, at the cost of cutting other government services.
Anyway, for the White House to float the idea that this amendment gives the executive the power to borrow is… nuts.