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Invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt limit flies in the face of Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution granting exclusivity to the House on matters of raising revenue.
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Dems Twist 14th Amendment
on Issue of Debt Ceiling
The White House insists President Barack Obama can't -- and won't -- use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling.

But a growing number of his congressional allies are urging Obama not to abandon a potentially powerful weapon before negotiations even begin.

With Republicans promising another climactic fight over the $16.4 trillion debt limit in two months, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that if she were president, she would invoke the Constitution to raise the ceiling on her own -- with or without permission from the GOP.

"I would do it, in a second, but I'm not the president of the United States," Pelosi said.

Like many other Democrats, Pelosi is eyeing the language in the 14th Amendment stating that the validity of US public debts "shall not be questioned." Prominent Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have argued that language -- added in the aftermath of the Civil War -- gives Obama all the authority he needs to break the ceiling.

Realistic or not, the talk underscores growing liberal concern that yet another round of brinksmanship will hobble Washington and the economy -- and force Obama into a bad negotiating position -- just months after Congress went over the so-called fiscal cliff and then barely averted it with a last-minute tax deal.

Whether Obama could invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt limit is an open legal question.

But that isn't deterring some Democrats.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said on Friday the Constitution not only allows Obama to bypass Congress on the debt ceiling -- it compels him to.

"I think [the Constitution] is pretty clear. He must do something about paying the bills," Udall said. "If Congress doesn't give him an avenue to do that, a leader needs to take a course of action if the bills aren't being paid. That could be devastating to our economy. It could be devastating to our reputation around the world."

The nation reached its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit on Dec. 31, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says his department is currently taking "extraordinary measures" that will only allow the nation to pay its bills for about another two months.

And after caving on tax hikes in the fiscal cliff deal, Republican leaders are promising rank-and-file conservatives that they'll use the need for a debt ceiling increase as leverage to extract major spending cuts, a strategy they successfully employed in 2011. But a government default holds far more economic catastrophic consequences than tax hikes and spending cuts.

The president has insisted that he won't negotiate around the ceiling, calling the threat of default an unacceptable bargaining chip in budget negotiations. The White House has not commented on other options.

But with Republicans repeatedly promising a fight, some Democrats are urging the president not to take the Constitution off the table.

"I'm one of those who thinks the president and the government has a basis for moving forward and not being held hostage by a political party -- so whether it's the 14th Amendment or other grounds, I think there are ways that the government has to move forward without being held hostage to political threats," says House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, who sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Nevertheless, the White House says the 14th Amendment is off the table, casting doubt on the legal merits of the strategy. Press secretary Jay Carney stated in December that "this administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling -- period."

If Obama does try to lift the limit on his own, at least one Republican has threatened a constitutional counter of his own: impeachment.


Editor's Note: You have to contort your thinking to a painful degree to see how the 14th Amendment gives the Executive the power to "raise revenue," an enumerated power exclusive to the US House of Representatives (Article I, Sec. 7)...But leave it to Progressives to bastardize anything they can to keep spending...

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