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The president has said he won't bypass Congress and go the constitutional route, but as the debt ceiling deadline looms, pressure grows
Despite the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he won't bypass Congress to raise the debt ceiling by executive order using the 14th amendment, Michele Bachmann, a "tea party" House Republican and presidential candidate said Thursday on "American Morning" that if he did use the constitutional option, he would be effectively a dictator, and it would lead to a move to impeach him, according to CNN:
“Clearly that’s unconstitutional,” she concluded. “If it happened there would be a call for the president’s impeachment within seconds.”
The 14th amendment option to address the debt ceiling standoff in Congress has been discussed for a while, and as the Aug. 2 deadline looms ever closer, the discussion is growing louder. Ten days ago, former president Bill Clinton said he would use the 14th amendment "without hesitation" and "force the courts to stop me," according to ABC News:
“I think the Constitution is clear and I think this idea that the Congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for [expenditures] it has appropriated is crazy,” Clinton said.
The 14th amendment says, in part, that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned.” Some Democrats say that would allow the president to take unilateral action to safeguard U.S. credit, the Hill reported.
On Thursday, the third-ranking House Democrat, James Clyburn of South Carolina, said that if a long-term deal wasn't arrived at by Aug. 2, Obama should raise the debt ceiling by executive order, without Congressional approval, according to the Hill.
Republicans have been on guard against that possibility; Rep. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, earlier this month began talking impeachment, saying that using the 14th amendment would constitute an impeachable offense, according to the Hill.
Scott was countered on Wednesday by Clyburn, who challenged tea party representatives in Congress to bring calls to impeach the president to the House floor, according to the Hill:
"I would love to see that speech," Clyburn said on MSNBC, the Hill reported:
"I want you to vote for impeachment of this president because he refused to let this country go into default," Clyburn said he would tell tea party Republicans.
Bachmann, who has stated that she won't vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances, said in her interview on CNN:
"Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes. It's Congress that does the spending. The president is prohibited to do that. If he had the power to do that he would effectively be a dictator. There would be no reason for Congress to even come into Washington, D.C. He would be making the spending decisions. He would be making the taxing decisions."
The Washington Post pointed out several problems with what Bachmann said:
Of course, if Congress ultimately determines spending — which of course it does — there’s no way raising the debt ceiling would constitute giving President Obama a “blank check,” as John Boehner and other Republicans keep falsely insisting.
The “blank check” talking point is one of the more absurd falsehoods to surface in recent memory. For one thing, as the Government Accountability Office explains: “The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred.”
Constitutional scholars are unsure whether the 14th amendment would allow the president to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, according to ABC News.
Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard University and a former professor of Obama’s, said earlier this month that the 14th amendment would have to be upheld by Congress, not by the president.