Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Debt Ceiling Argument That Makes My Head Hurt

While I would have probably said it different, I think Michele Bachmann is fundamentally correct when she says:

"It's Congress that does the spending. The president is prohibited to do that. If he had the power to do that he would effectively be a dictator," the Minnesota Congresswoman said Thursday on CNN's "American Morning." "There would be no reason for Congress to even come to Washington, D.C. He would be making the spending decisions … Clearly that's unconstitutional."

That is, if you respect the constitution, you respect that there are things that each branch of the Government can do. Obama's job is simply not to decide how money gets spent - that's done by congress. Period.

And the White House agrees:

Jacob Lew, WH Budget Director: “Our plan is for Congress to do its work and the President to sign into law legislation that will make it possible for the United States as it always has, to keep its obligations. We’ll be ready to deal with whatever happens. There is no plan other than meeting our obligations.

Which brings me to two points I can't wrap my head around:

First, how can folks like Palin criticize the President for not "prioritizing our spending?" Wouldn't that put him in the position of funding some legislation and not others? Effectively, aren't you forcing the president into the "Dictator" that Bachmann describes?

Second, Bachmman's statement from above is actually her evidence for why Obama can't use the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling.

In other words, if he forces a raise in the debt ceiling he's violating the constitution. If he doesn't force a raise in the debt ceiling, then as far as I can tell he's forced to decide what to fund and not to fund, and therefore, is violating the constitution.

Seems to me, like arbitrarily raising the debt ceiling would actually keep the integrity of the three branches of government, not remove it.

We sure did get ourselves into a pickle here, no?

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