Tuesday, August 02, 2011

David Dayen: President Obama was scamming us on the 14th-Amendment option

David Dayen zeroes in on the significance of Vice President Joe Biden's admission that the President was ready to use his 14th Amendment power and obligation to meet the financial commitments of the United States if Congress didn't pass the debt ceiling increase.

There are two big implications of this. One is that Obama was scamming the country, the world and the Democratic Party about the alleged impending disaster from not approving the debt ceiling. The second is that no honest activist, commentator or politician should fall for this scam when the next debt ceiling increase is up for a vote this coming November. David Dayen:

The bombshell dropped alongside the debt limit deal yesterday, aside from Gabrielle Giffords’ return to Congress, was Joe Biden telling a group of House Democrats that the President was prepared to "invoke the 14th Amendment" in the event of the debt limit failing to pass. I'm not sure entirely what he means by that, but there are enormous implications.

The President said all along that the only way to raise the debt limit was to raise the debt limit through legislative action. He was unmoved by the claims that it could be raised through other means. Now we hear through Biden that, as a fail-safe, there was a way for Obama to use his power as chief executive to avoid a default. ...

This is nonetheless valuable information. It shows that the President feels he has the option to avoid a financial catastrophe recklessly pushed by the opposing party. The next President, when faced with this, is likely to jump at that possibility. I know that Mitch McConnell said on the floor of the Senate that this will happen again on the next debt limit vote. But it seems to me that a hand has been tipped now. If more reporting is done on this, the debt limit need not be a hostage-taking event again. And at the very least, a movement should begin inside Congress to abolish it, especially because a US President has intimated that they always have a backstop irrespective of the failure to pass.
What a disgraceful business the whole debt-ceiling debate was. The Republicans are more reckless and irresponsible in their approach. But it was Obama's responsibility as President and leader of the Democratic Party to not let this thing play out the way he did. He failed in that responsibility badly.

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