President Obama Already Using 14th Amendment In Debt Crisis


As debt ceiling negotiations continue to stall out, in large part because a block of Republicans have made it their mission to force a default, the cries from the left for President Obama to use the “constitutional option” and invoke the 14th Amendment to resolve this contrived crisis have amplified.  But there’s at least one good argument that he is already doing so.

The President has publicly stated that he does not plan on using the power granted to the executive via the 14th Amendment to resolve the debt ceiling crisis.  And as to be expected, many progressives took this statement to mean the President would instead agree to massive benefit cuts or other capitulations.  I think it is time everyone take a breath.

For starters, the President is giving Congress the opportunity to lead, or not lead as the case may be.  He has to.  Resolving this issue is at first a Congressional responsibility.  He can push and he can prod, but he cant write a bill and send it to them for passage.

Anyone doubting the extent of that leadership should listen to today’s speech.

Also, President Obama has assured bond holders that there will not be a default.  How can he make such a promise without keeping the 14th Amendment option alive?  If the vacuum of leadership in the House and the myopia of the Senate really do fail to pass a bill that the President can sign, then prioritizing bondholder payments is only possible because of the 14th Amendment.

Even if Congress cannot be persuaded that following a government shutdown and market meltdown raising the ceiling is a global economic imperative President Obama can still act.  But for now, those emergency powers can’t be executed because we simply have not gone over the cliff.  Yet.

In “The Audacity of Hope” President Obama described his admiration for President Lincoln and, given recent events, that allegiance seems especially fitting.  Like President Lincoln, President Obama faces a Congress in revolt, and like President Lincoln, President Obama may be called on to take bold acts of executive leadership that may be immediately unpopular but will prove to be historically prudent.

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Photo from tracyo via flickr.

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David C.
David Connally4 years ago


I sympathise with your economic predicament. Only the rich have it easy these days.

Kelly R.
Kelly R.4 years ago

50% is right but 50% of base pay (depending on rank and years of service) - housing and seperate rates(food)and any other "extra" is not included in that calculation. So as a Tech Sergeant with 18 years (I took one of the last early retirements at that time) - I believe the formula was base pay X 50% - 20%(the 2 years that would have made up 20 years) - $36000(a year) X 50% = 18000 - 3600 = 14400 (this was my starting retirement pay). Then you minus 20% of that for a service connected disability = 11520 - but don't worry that 20% I get tax free - a whole $243. ANd of course they take Federal taxes from the rest so in the end I get $1169 a month ($14028 is a far cry from $36000 and with my current job I have yet to break $35000 combined!) My COLA increase are figured the same way Social Security is. I am aware that the civilian sector pensions really suck where as back in the day they were much better. I grew up making due and taking care of the "needs" and when there was extra for the "wants" you might get some.

David C.
David Connally4 years ago

Kelly, you know more about mil pensions that I.

I was under the impression that 20 years service entitled you to a 50% pension beginning immediately upon retirement, that the pension included a COLA.

To calibrate you, fewer than half of private companies now offer a defined benefit pension. In a typical private plan, 20 years of service would give you a 20-30% pension that begins at age 65. If you retire at age 40, and inflation is 3%, your pension at age 65 would be 10 to 15% of your maximum salary. I've never heard of a private pension that included a COLA, though some may. Mine certainly does not.

My understanding of mil pensions may be incorrect. You can make your own comparison with what you have compared to a typical private pension.

David C.
David Connally4 years ago

You know more about mil pensions than I Kelly. I was under the impression, you got a pension after 20 years, that the pension began immediately, that the pension was 50%, that the pension included a cola. In a pretty good private company pension (and pensions are becoming increasingly rare), 20 years of service would give you a 20-30% pension that began at age 65 and did not include a COLA. I worked 36 years for a 45% pension, no COLA, no dental isurance no eyecare insurance.

Kelly R.
Kelly R.4 years ago

@David C
Not sure how you view "superior pensions" especially for enlisted. I am retired Air Force I get $1169 after taxes a month and I use Tricare Standard. I have to use a doctor downtown (only Tricare Prime folks get to use the base doctors, until I meet my deductable or whatever I get to pay about 3/4ths of any of my medical bills, I have no dental or eye coverage unless I wish to add that on (which some civilian companies do) and if I want any "extras" I need to continue to work - which I am and glad to have a job. Actually the possibility is there for a pay and benefit cut - The Gang of Six is looking at a plan to cut 80 billion over the next decade, which include all forms of retired pay, survivor benefits, Montgomery GI Bill for Selective Reserve and Tricare for Life for older military retirees. And they are looking at a way to reduce retiree cola with a new formula. And I am aware that there has been no COLA raises in the last two years. I say bring it on as long as they don't cut anything for the active duty who are currently are in the line of fire and need to have good equipment and know that their families have a roof over their heads and food on the table.

David C.
David Connally4 years ago

@Kelly R

There is not the slightest suggestion that military pay will be decreased in any part of any bill. Military pay has been increased in every year of the Obama presidency. Increases have been small in %age terms but CPI increases have also been small or zero. SS recipients, whose COLA depends on the CPI received no increase.

Half of your comment was focused on military pay cuts with the implication that that this is a possibility. It is not. I think we all know that military pay is much smaller than in the civilian sector - though benefits, especially pensions, are far superior.

Kelly R.
Kelly R.4 years ago

I consider myself a "sensible American" and I do not want America to continue to borrow. The Congressional Budget Office awhile back came out with a list of duplicate agencies,etc. that could be cut that would go a good ways to help reduce the deficit - what happened to that? Some of our programs, Medicare and Medicaid have been in place a long time and need to be "update" or "fixed" to work in this modern day America and to reduce or hopefully cut fraud and abuse that cost ALL taxpayers additional money. Social Security needs to be put back to it's original form so that the government can't keep borrowing money that is not theirs to pay the countries bills. And cutting the military pay and benefits - anyone not in the military really needs to sit down with an Enlisted military member and let them show you just how much THEY DO NOT MAKE!Some of the younger enlisted are eligble for food stamps! The military member pays taxes just like the civilian folks, their "pay raises" most of the time are at or below the COLA that folks on Social Security get, any yes they choose this line of work but the are on call 24/7, aren't allowed to call in sick and get shot at and killed - what little bit the get they deserve! When American is over run by one of enemies let's who stands up and fits - not for $$$$s but to survive!

David C.
David Connally4 years ago

@Craig C Are you joking or just ignorant?

You wrote "why don't you give us the breakdown of the $16 trillion since Mr. ben... took office ... That's 11/2 trillion more then the current debt!!!"

The president took office presented with an $11 odd trillion debt. It's projected to reach around $15 trillion at the end of 2012. If he does as well as Reagan, the debt will be $30 trillion in 2016. Your comment said he'd increased the debt by $15 trillion - were you really serious??? I didn't think anyone could be that ignorant so I assume you were kidding around.

And no - I never did work for the government Am on SS. Spent 40 years in research where my job was to look at the facts and make recommendations. The company loses a lot of $$ if a researcher is wrong. Those that have the conservative talent for making things up as they go along are fired quite early in their careers.

Pego R.
Pego R.4 years ago and
Democrat oriented rag-blog ß This counts as left-wing

American news outlets have given up most of their foreign stringers. (Journalists that are in the [foreign] location and locally expert on what is being reported) Much of our information no longer has any independent confirmation and now relies on Government dispatches, an international not-for-profit with clearly documented and exhibited funding sources. For well-informed news about any other country we really now have to rely on foreign news outlets like
and other providers that are local to the regions in question.

The League of Women Voters have been a reliable and non-partisan resource for a very long time now;

Campaign Finance Links

Pego R.
Pego R.4 years ago

Almost all news channels are owned and operated by the same corporations that are snaking our environment, our rights and tax money out from under us.
The common criticism

Real alternatives to Fox and MSNBC do exist