All the hue and cry over whether, or how, the federal debt ceiling should be raised again seems increasingly ridiculous to me. After all, Congress and the President already have agreed to every dollar of spending that requires this new borrowing.
So the debt ceiling must be raised for both legal and moral reasons.
It'd be reprehensible for politicians to disown the legislative decisions that Republicans and Democrats alike have made, saying "Yeah, we voted for more spending, but now we refuse to supply the money to pay for it."
Thus I really like the idea that's starting to be floated around: Obama could declare that it is unconstitutional for him to fail to protect the credit-worthiness of the federal government.
After all, the 14th amendment to the Constitution directs that:
"the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."
Back in April Garrett Epps wrote a convincing speech that Obama could give on this subject. It ends with:
I regret that the intransigence of a small minority of members of Congress have forced our nation into this situation. I know that some of these same political leaders will now charge me with violating the Constitution -- the same Constitution that they apparently have no desire either to read or to follow. If they truly believe this to be true, I challenge them to bring Articles of Impeachment against me. The charge should be that I did what was necessary to support our troops in the field, to bolster our public credit, and to prevent destitution and despair among American families. I welcome that debate.
But as long as I remain president, the national debt of the United States shall not be questioned. That is my pledge to you, to the world, and to the memory of the brave men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion to rescue the United States from forces who long ago sought its destruction.
I'd stand up and cheer that speech. As would a majority of other Americans, I bet. Though it's unlikely that Obama will go this route, it's certainly something for him to seriously consider.
Just the possibility of pursuing the "constitutional option" should make Republicans more willing to seriously negotiate about raising the debt ceiling, rather than acting like cry babies and walking away from the table as they're doing now.