Opinion Brief

Debt-ceiling showdown: Time for Obama to invoke the 14th amendment?

House Democrats say if Republicans won't agree to a long-term solution to the debt crisis, the president should impose one on his own

A group of House Democrats is urging President Obama to raise the debt ceiling by executive order to keep Republicans from "destroying government." Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat, says if the best Congress can offer by the Aug. 2 deadline is a short-term fix, Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment, which says the validity of U.S. government debts "shall not be questioned." That, Clyburn says, "will bring calm to the American people and will bring needed stability to our financial markets." Is the 14th Amendment the answer?

Yes, if that is what it takes: It's about time somebody stood up to the GOP's "Tea Party extortionist wing," which is holding the nation, and the economy, hostage, says Taylor Marsh at her blog. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has "caved" to "Obamanomic Republicanism," so it's encouraging to see there are still leaders protecting "the principles of what it means to be a Democrat." Obama, with his "austerity fetish," won't invoke the 14th Amendment, but one can dream.
"Pelosi falls to austerity craze, Clyburn-Becerra cite 14th Amendment"

Obama would be impeached if he pulled this stunt: It's surely tempting for Congress to let President Obama wave a "magic wand" and make the debt ceiling issue disappear, says The Washington Times in an editorial. "Fortunately, this supposed presidential power doesn't exist." The 14th Amendment empowers Congress, not the president, to handle the debt, so Obama would be committing an "impeachable offense" if he ignored the Constitution and made up the law on his own.
"The debt ceiling and dictatorship"

Just mentioning the 14th Amendment might help: The White House has been downplaying the 14th Amendment as an option, says Jon Walker at Firedoglake. But it's hard to believe that Clyburn would come out so strongly in favor of it without Obama's tacit approval. This might just be an attempt to reassure the markets, but it could also "be a move to try to convince conservative House Republicans that they risk getting no cuts at all if they don't agree to a deal soon."
"Push for 14th Amendment solution grows stronger"

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