Budget Deficits | timiacono.com - Part 2

Fiscal Chicken Little

It looks as though there might be a deal in the works to raise the debt ceiling enough to cover about six weeks of government spending, in which case, the nation will get to do this all over again between now and the end of November … Yippee!

Who knows where the approval ratings will be for the House, the Senate, and the White House by that time as the nation’s “apocalypse fatigue” increases from current levels, if that’s even possible. Look for consumer confidence to erode further.

A few news items on the shutdown/debt ceiling debate shed some light on the goings on in Washington and are recommended reading for anyone wanting to be brought up to date on the subject or who are curious about the title above that was derived from these two reports:

These two stories go a long way in explaining why President Obama is likely to end up doing exactly what he has said he’d refuse to do – negotiate before raising the debt ceiling (that is, if he wants the debt ceiling to be raised for more than six weeks at a time).

Those who are firmly on one side of the issue might want to pick the appropriate commentary below in order to reinforce those views (that’s what most Americans do, right?), just in case things get a little dicey here in the days ahead as lawmakers try to make a deal to make some other deal at a later date.

I don’t know about you, but I seem to suffering from apocalypse fatigue.

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Jack Lew Takes on the Debt Ceiling Deniers

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on the debt limit and those who argue not raising it can be dealt with by prioritizing payments. A link to the CSPAN coverage can be found here, though other news outlets are covering it as well.

Understandably, he seems pretty irritated about all of this…

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Santelli: Guess Who Said This?

CNBC personality Rick Santelli shares some thoughts about raising the debt ceiling that were offered up on Capitol Hill back in March 2006 by a freshman Senator from Illinois.

It really is a pretty good speech but, obviously, you see matters like this much differently when you’re the party in power rather than when you have little or no power.

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More on the 14th Amendment

From Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz come these thoughts (and a good deal of interesting background) about the potential use of the 14th amendment as justification for the White House unilaterally raising the debt ceiling.

Republicans in the House of Representatives who declare 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.

In defense of the administration’s position, the legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe, who taught President Obama at Harvard Law School, has insisted, as he put it two years ago, that “only political courage and compromise” can avert disaster.

These assertions, however, have no basis in the history of the 14th Amendment; indeed, they distort that history, and in doing so shackle the president. In fact, that record clearly shows that Congress intended the amendment to prevent precisely the abuses that the current House Republicans blithely condone.

What’s really ironic about this is that the debt related provisions in the 14th amendment stem from concerns over Confederate debt that arose immediately after the Civil War ended.

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