My Brief Thoughts on the 14th Amendment and the Debt Ceiling

First page of Constitution of the United States
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Allow me to issue some thoughts here without taking sides on the other issues.

First, the 14th amendment is one which covered a few things after the War Between the States, such as the idea that everyone was now, or is now, a citizen of the United States and as such the Bill of Rights applies to them. This has opened up the door, by the way, for corporations to exert some manner of ‘personhood.’ That’s not the issue here. The issue here is the raising of the debt ceiling.

The part which is the talk of the town is Section 4:

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. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

This was to insure that the Southern States remained in poverty for a very long time because they were charged with paying off their debts incurred in the Late War of Northern Aggression. But, beyond the historical context, what people are doing today is to suggest that the 14th Amendment is a valid way of the President getting around a do-nothing-except-for-the-richest-and-the-corporations fraction of Congress.

I would suggest that Section 5 be amended into the conversation,

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

First, the law which authorized the public debt (Section 4) was created by Congress. Second, Congress is the one who enforces by other laws the provisions of the 14th amendment. I am unaware of a law which Congress could legally pass which would allow it to muzzle itself on a Constitutional duty.

Congress has been enumerated with certain powers, including the paying and authorizing of the debt. More specifically, I would argue that since the Revenue bills must originate in the House, it was the Founder’s concern that the operation of the purse strings be as close to the ground as possible. Remember, in those days, the mob (most likely white property owning males) were the only ones who voted for the members of the House of Representatives. (The States voted on the Senators). By doing this, their intent was to slow down expenditures because those who paid for them had to vote for them and in a real way, prevent the President from becoming a virtual King. While this is no longer the case in any regard – everyone over 18 and not a felon gets to vote for both the House and the Senate – the idea remains that only Congress has the power to authorize the debt and the prohibition of questioning was not directed to Congress, but to the States and the People, specifically to those who had recently lost the Second American Revolution.

The President has two responsibilities – one, as Commander in Chief and two, to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. In this latter duty the role of executive is expressed in that he appoints department heads which carries out the laws created by Congress. But even then, these appointments are made with the approval of Congress. There is a long storied history here, but let me just say that I do not think that the President has the authority to raise the debt (ceiling) if it has not be authorized by Congress, whether that Congress has been bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers and George Soros.

Back to other things now.

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