July 22, 2024

Economix: Could Obama Just Ignore the Debt Ceiling?

In the ongoing debate over raising the debt ceiling, one option has not had much prominence: whether the Obama administration could ignore it altogether, and just spend the money it owes anyway. Would that be legal?

Matthew Zeitlin at The New Republic spoke with a few political scientists, budget wonks and constitutional scholars who argue that it would be.  An excerpt:

Garrett Epps, a legal journalist and professor at University of Baltimore School of Law, has made an even broader argument in a pair of articles for The Atlantic’s website. In an interview, Epps told me that there was a strong argument that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional because it exceeds the legislative branch’s power of the purse. The argument goes like this: Because Congress already appropriated the funds in question, it is the executive branch’s duty to enact those appropriations. The debt ceiling, then, is legislative “double-counting,” because the executive branch is obligated to spend the money Congress appropriates, without having to go back and ask again for permission.

Of course, ignoring the debt ceiling could have some severe political consequences, especially since most Americans do not seem to realize that doing so primarily requires making good on payments already promised, as opposed to committing to new spending. That may explain why most Americans still are against raising the ceiling.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=98af66dbbbe7b0aa92d31dd2d712fadc

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