The Spectacle Blog

Bill Clinton on debt limit: I’d “force the courts to stop me”

By on 7.19.11 | 5:50AM

Bill Clinton, Peronist or pragmatist? From Politico's Morning Money:

FLASH: CLINTON WOULD INVOKE THE 14TH - Former President Bill Clinton told National Memo's Joe Conason last night that if he were still in office and all else failed he would invoke the 14th Amendment and raise the nation's debt ceiling unilaterally to avoid default and then "force the courts to stop me." http://bit.ly/p0R6Ug

His reasoning? "I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy." This echoes a view from the New Republic which patly suggests that once Congress decides to spend the money, the president's duty is merely to borrow.

Not really. The 14th Amendment doesn't call for Congress to borrow whenever it needs money. It simply instructs Congress to pay for what it spends. Meaning it can choose to cut spending, raise taxes, or print more currency. Arguing as Clinton does would also license the president to print more currency in order to pay the bills, effectively running down the value of the dollar.

It's like saying that once you've maxed out all your credit cards, you have no choice but to transfer the balance to a new credit card.

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