osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

This 14th Amendment Thing

OK, the first time I heard the argument advanced that somehow the language of the 14th Amendment authorized the President to ignore the power of the purse and just do whatever was necessary to pay the debt, I thought it was a total crock. Apparently, some law professors with no notable axes to grind think there might be something to it.

But I still think it is a total crock. And, in a demonstration of the power of the media and the idiocy that governs our politics, we already have some folks muttering about impeachment, for something the President has not actually even said he plans to do yet.

Mind you, I'm still annoyed over the War Powers Act violations. I would say there is not a lot of moral high ground left for either political party in this whole "country of laws, not men" business. sigh But at least the idea that the War Powers Act is outdated and does not include our modern concepts of "war by remote control" is plausible (or, as we would say among lawyers, it is a colorable argument). The idea that the 14th Amendment is a trump card to the spending power is still a little too much for me to swallow without a much more convincing legal argument than what I have seen so far.

Please do not mistake me. Every President will make interpretations of law with which others can reasonably disagree, particularly around Presidential privilege and the power of the executive. A lot of legal interpretation is about trying to make your best guess around reasonable interpretations of often ambiguous words and phrases. But there are also some fairly straightforward things as well. And one of the fairly well accepted cannons of constitutional law is that Congress' ultimate trump card is the power of the purse. And what we are talking about here is not paying the already incurred debt of the United States, but incurring new debt to pay for existing programs.

Well, we shall see. Fun times ahead.

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