Thursday, December 06, 2012

So much for the 'imperial presidency'

White House Says It Cannot Raise Debt Ceiling

Peter Baker, NYT

The White House flatly declared Thursday that President Obama could not unilaterally raise the nation’s debt ceiling without Congress, rejecting liberal entreaties to bypass Republicans who may try to use the statutory borrowing limit as leverage in fiscal negotiations.

Some Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have theorized that the president has the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own, citing a clause in the 14th Amendment guaranteeing that the nation’s debts “shall not be questioned.” They have called on Mr. Obama to assert this power to deprive Republicans of a weapon in the current showdown over taxes and spending.

But Mr. Obama effectively renounced such an assertion of authority on Thursday through his spokesman. “I can say that this administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters, reading from language that had been prepared for him.

Administration officials had long discounted the possibility that the president would claim such power but Thursday’s statement seemed more definitive than in the past. When asked about it last year, Mr. Obama said: “I have talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.” While dismissing the idea, his language at the time did not seem to categorically rule it out the way the new statement seemed to do.

(More here.)

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