Skip to main content

President Obama, defuse this Republican pipe bomb

Josh Marshall:
But for future reference let's remember that the entire concept of a debt limit ceiling is ridiculous. If the Congress votes to spend more than it will take in in tax revenues, that is a vote to borrow money. Period. For Congress to vote once to borrow the money and then have to vote again to borrow the same money is silly.

That's not to say this has any constitutional relevance; Congress has broad latitude to do stupid things. But this was always a silly way of doing business -- which is the reason why no other major country has a similar procedure -- a time bomb waiting for one of the two parties to decide to play Russian Roulette with the nation.
Right now, the House is moving to reject Harry Reid's stupendous giveaway to conservatives before it is even passed (assuming they can get past a Republican filibuster).  There seem to be two easy fixes to this: the President invokes the 14th amendment, or mints a couple trillion-dollar platinum coins.  To my completely untrained eye the platinum solution looks less dubious, but quite frankly I don't particularly care which unilateral solution we use.  Is this a dangerous usurpation of presidential power?  I agree with this guy:
Some say this would set a dangerous precedent. Maybe so. But one must view every decision within the context of available options. The alternative is to confirm that the debt ceiling can be taken hostage in a way never experienced before. That admits a tremendous power in Congress, giving that branch a degree of leverage over the economy never before so fully exploited. Is that not a dangerous precedent too? Do we wish to face political debt ceiling threats again, and again, and again?

Keep in mind, if Congress finds the President’s actions so egregious, it has some recourse: impeachment. If the debt ceiling can be taken hostage, any President with an interest in protecting the economy (which we can safely assume is every President there has ever been or will ever be) has no recourse.

I do not understand any argument that implies it is OK for Congress (or one chamber of it) to so easily threaten to blow up the economy. Such a thing strikes me as self-evidently unpatriotic. And, if it is unpatriotic to threaten severe economic damage, isn’t it also unpatriotic to resist the demands that would prevent it?
The last decade has seen some of the most outrageous expansions of executive power in American history. Bush, of course, started a war on false pretenses, instituted a torture regime, violated secrecy and wiretapping statutes, and pardoned the only person to be convicted of anything.  President Obama himself has already started one illegal war, and continues most of Bush's terrorism policies.  You want some real tyranny?  How about federal agencies raiding medical marijuana dispensaries that are plainly legal under state law?

Yet when it comes to protecting the full faith and credit of the United States, suddenly the President's hands are tied.  I believe the platinum solution is legal, but seriously, what kind of executive usurpation is this?  The tyranny of...borrowing the money Congress has already voted to spend?  Please.  Call the White House now, and tell them to embrace the platinum option!

UPDATE: Yglesias is undoubtedly correct that this situation is symptomatic of broader political decay and doesn't bode well for the future.  Nevertheless, I can't help but conclude that exploiting the platinum loophole is the right thing to do in this moment.  If it's that or worldwide recession (or even savage spending cuts plus the same thing again in six months), put me down for the loophole.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

On Refusing to Vote for Bloomberg

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is attempting to buy the Democratic nomination. With something like $400 million in personal spending so far, that much is clear — and it appears to be working at least somewhat well, as he is nearing second place in national polls. I would guess that he will quickly into diminishing returns, but on the other hand spending on this level is totally unprecedented. At this burn rate he could easily spend more than the entire 2016 presidential election cost both parties before the primary is over. I published a piece today outlining why I would not vote for Bloomberg against Trump (I would vote for Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Biden), even though I live in a swing state. This got a lot of "vote blue no matter who" people riled up . They scolded me and demanded that I pre-commit to voting for Bloomberg should he win the nomination. The argument as I understand it is to try to make it as likely as possible that whatever Democrat wins t

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha