The roof is on fire

If Congress’ solutions to the debt ceiling remain intransient, the president has two permanent alternatives.
January 23, 2013

 

We may have avoided the fiscal cliff, but only for so long.

During winter break, President Barack Obama and Congress were able to avoid economic sequestration and automatic spending cuts. They did so by extending the Bush tax cuts for those making $400,000 or less, or up to $450,000 for couples. Yet, they only delayed the sequestration trigger until March. 

Shortly after Obama declared he was not going to tie any fiscal debate with raising the debt ceiling because the nation would be unable to pay bills that were already incurred.

The president has also called on extending the debt ceiling for more than three months. Republicans in Congress are requiring Senate Democrats to pass a budget — something they haven’t done in four years. 

With a troubling political tide approaching once again, what can Obama do to bypass such opposition? There are two more permanent avenues the president can take.

The first is the 14th Amendment. According to Section 4 of the amendment “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

Therefore, Obama could simply dissolve the debt ceiling, calling it an unconstitutional questioning of the debt. The courts may challenge it later, but this course would avert defaulting on our loans.

The second is the “platinum coin.” Treasury Security Timothy Geitner can have the Mint strike a coin worth $1 trillion and ship it to the Treasury. 

Obama, however, has rejected both of these proposals in the past. The White House rejected the 14th Amendment option in the midst of the fiscal showdown during summer 2011 when a similar issue resulted in the downgrading of our nation’s credit. They also refused the platinum coin option only a few weeks ago. 

In this instance, where our economic future relies on political ultimatum, we must look to avert an economic — and political — crisis.

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