October 11, 2013
Obama’s Long Game?

Here’s Sean Wilentz, in Monday’s New York Times:

The Republicans in the House of Representatives who declare that they may refuse to raise the debt limit threaten to do more than plunge the government into default. They are proposing a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment, which states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law” is sacrosanct and “shall not be questioned.”

Yet the Obama administration has repeatedly suppressed any talk of invoking the Constitution in this emergency. Last Thursday Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said, “We do not believe that the 14th Amendment provides that authority to the president” to end the crisis. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew reiterated the point on Sunday and added that the president would have “no option” to prevent a default on his own.

And here’s a comment from Marsha in Arizona:
Obama won’t uphold his Constitutional responsibilities BECAUSE he wants the same things as the Republicans...cuts to “entitlements”...and this way, he can blame the other “guys”.

House Republicans threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling — that is, force a repudiation of debts already accrued — would violate that ‘fundamental principle’ of the Constitution.

Surely the lawyers advising and defending the White House, let alone the president, know as much. Refraining from stating this loudly and clearly, and allowing Congress to slip off the hook, has been a puzzling and self-defeating strategy, leading to the crippling sequester and the politics of chronic debt-ceiling crisis. More important, by failing to clarify the constitutional principles involved, the administration has neglected to do its utmost to defend the Constitution.

I hope Marsha is wrong. I hope, I hope. But why, then, did President Obama publicly throw away one of his aces before the betting began?


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at October 11, 2013 06:38 PM
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Well, it wouldn't be the first time Obama threw away one of his aces before betting began. One might even intimate a certain predilection on his part toward such generosity.

Seems like the kind of guy one might wish to engage in a few hands of poker.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on October 11, 2013 11:59 PM

Because he always has?

Very purposefully.

(We know whom he chose to advise him financially when he first took office (and whom he's picked for everything ever since (Goldmen, GE's, & MorganStanleys)).)

No guessing allowed.

Posted by: Cirze on October 13, 2013 12:11 AM

From Dr. Krugman:

"My bet now is that we actually do go over the line for a day or two. And what ends the immediate crisis is not Republican action but a decision by Obama to declare himself not bound by the debt ceiling. He can’t even hint at this possibility until the thing actually happens, because he has to keep the focus on the Republicans, and he has to make them demonstrate their utter irresponsibility before he can take any extraordinary action.

"But maybe I’m wrong; maybe Obama’s lawyers have concluded that there’s really nothing he can do. If so, God help us all."


Posted by: chrisanthemama on October 16, 2013 1:20 AM
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