I'm hoping that soon we'll have another constitutional slogan that will become as well known as "pleading the Fifth" -- take the Fourteenth.
The Fifth Amendment provides a right against self-incrimination. To many, including me, the Fourteenth Amendment authorizes the president of the United States to do what is necessary to protect the validity of our nation's public debt.
It ended 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.
Last night I was reading TIME magazine as I was brushing my teeth and came across this quote from Obama and accompanying description.
"This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this." President Obama, arguing for a long term debt extension -- as opposed to a short term deal -- which would prevent the U.S. from defaulting when its debt limit is reached on Aug. 1.
August 2 is next Tuesday. Competing debt limit extension plans haven't even come up for a vote in Congress yet. Every Democrat and Independent senator has vowed to vote against the Republican House plan, which calls for another debt limit vote early next year.
Republicans love to talk about how political uncertainty is hurting our economic recovery. Well, continued uncertainty about whether the federal government is going to shut down would be a much bigger drag on business than any potential closing of tax loopholes.
And if people don't get their social security checks, or if government employees (including our armed forces) can't be paid, our economy is going to crash, fast.
I'm hoping that Obama is serious about not signing any short-term debt limit bill. Boehner and his fellow House Republicans are going to have to compromise, since their debt limit legislation isn't going anywhere in the Senate.
Problem is, the Tea Party types are fanatical. They're already seriously irked at Boehner for coming up with his current bill, which they consider to be way too weak on cutting government spending. Yet the Senate and President seemingly won't approve the House proposal unless it becomes even more centrist.
I'm worried that we're heading for a political and economic meltdown.
Until today I thought Congress would get its act together just in time to avert disaster. But given how intransigent House Republicans are, it's difficult to see how the compromise that Obama has called for can happen before August 2.
Maybe a political miracle will happen in the next few days. Maybe the Tea Party crazies will come to their senses and realize that wrecking the American economy isn't going to help their cause.
But if these "maybe's" remain unactualized possibilities, I hope to see Obama taking to the airwaves again Sunday night. I want him to give the best speech of his life, one which will make the vast majority of Americans -- Democrat and Republican, progressive and conservative -- stand up and cheer for common sense, courage, and conviction.
I want Obama to say that he is authorizing the Treasury Department to do what's necessary to make sure that the United States pays its bills. I want him to explain more clearly than he has so far that raising the debt limit has nothing to do with the federal budget deficit -- nothing.
All it does is assure that the government can pay the bills that it already has incurred. Lowering future spending is a whole other issue, in the same way as paying off a credit card debt is entirely different from vowing to reduce the amount of future charges.
It'd be immoral, unethical, and illegal for someone to refuse tp pay off their credit card because they suddenly realized that they'd been incurring too much debt. The VISA folks would laugh at that argument.
Yet the Tea Party, and many House Republicans, want the United States to default on its legal obligations. Obama can't allow this to happen. The bond and stock markets won't like a Fourteenth Amendment controversy, but that'd be much better for our economy that a shutdown of almost half of the federal government.