Skip to comments.Watchdog demands to know why Obama renounced debt-limit power
Posted on 10/20/2013 3:18:48 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
One of Washington's most prominent watchdog groups is seeking the legal reasons behind President Obama's long-standing refusal to hike the debt ceiling unilaterally.
As the recent fiscal battle unfolded, the White House said repeatedly that Obama does not have the authority to extend the Treasury's borrowing powers without congressional action.
But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is challenging that claim, noting that the Obama administration has, in the words of CREW chief counsel Anne Weismann, adopted "an expansive view of executive power" in everything from the surveillance of U.S. citizens at home and the killing of Americans overseas.
Given that track record, CREW is wondering why Obama feels he cant hike the debt ceiling on his own to prevent an economic collapse.
"While the president by no means created this crisis, there is a legitimate question as to whether he could have prevented it by exercising his unilateral authority to raise the debt limit," Weismann wrote Friday in a blog.
CREW on Friday filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Treasury Department, the Justice Department and the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel "seeking any legal opinions and/or memos concluding President Obama must sit back and wait for Congress to raise the debt ceiling even if his inaction plunges our country and potentially the world economy into economic chaos," Weismann wrote.
The issue is sure to resurface soon, as the debt package Congress enacted this week extends the Treasury's borrowing authority only through Feb. 7.
The short window sets the stage for another potential showdown between the president, who has insisted on a "clean" debt-limit hike, and conservative Republicans, who fought tooth and nail to stop ObamaCare as a condition of raising the ceiling.
In the midst of that battle, a number of Democrats and legal scholars argued that Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt limit unilaterally.
Section 4 of that amendment states that, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is among the most vocal advocates of tapping the amendment to sidestep Congress.
"I think the 14th Amendment covers it," she said last month.
But Obama has repeatedly rejected that strategy, questioning its effectiveness if the legality of that move becomes the subject of broad dispute.
If you start having a situation in which theres legal controversy about the U.S. Treasurys authority to issue debt, the damage will have been done even if that were constitutional, because people wouldnt be sure, Obama said during an Oct. 8 press briefing at the White House.
Itd be tied up in litigation for a long time," he added. "Thats going to make people nervous."
CREW argues that such statements are hardly off the cuff, and must be based on an extensive evaluation by White House officials. It's that analysis the group is after.
"It is hard to imagine he would publicly insist he lacks authority to act in the face of such a crisis without someone in the administration taking a hard look at the question," Weismann wrote.
The group doesn't anticipate the administration will deliver the information readily, but it says it's ready to take the case to court, if need be.
"CREW is ready for that," Weismann wrote. "The public needs all the facts as the political posturing begins again on whether and how to increase the debt ceiling in advance of the new February 7, 2014 deadline."
Congress seems to have surrendered the power of spending to the executive branch.
Yeah, CREW is acting as a front for Obama's minions who are trying to set the stage for his further usurpation of legislative power.
The fact of the matter is that all of this chatter about the 14th Amendment is completely dishonest, since Section 4 has nothing to do with debt ceilings or budgets, but was a Civil War measure to destroy the credit and financial viability of the defeated Confederate States of America, and to also take care of that war's Union veterans. It also voided any potential claims that the Confederacy's creditors (including Britain) might make against the United States after the war.
Pretty much everything.
They neither read nor write the legislation they do propose, and most of it is pointless anyway as they’ve abdicated power to executive agencies that have the authority to implement rules (law) and fines (taxes) at will.
I’m really not sure what the point of congress is any more besides pretending they’re relevant.
Generally speaking, a prez that came out of Congress is more deferential to Congress while a prez that was a governor is more confrontational towards Congress.
What really shifts the relative power between the executive and legislative branches is misfeasance or malfeasance of a prez. Nixon's actions as prez resulted in Congress expanding its power over the prez.
For example, the Church Commission built a wall between the prez's agencies, CIA and FBI. Because Nixon was using these agencies to go after his political enemies.
Another example is Nixon used Impoundment excessively to try to control Congress' appropriations because he thought they were inflationary. Congress sued Nixon and won so since then all presidents lost the power of impoundment. Prez GW Bush used signing statements to try to claw back that power from Congress.
The progressives at CREW are therefore saying Obama can make law. Soon we will be told he is the law. Obama breeds thuggery and lawlessness. What a nightmare.
...the White House said repeatedly that Obama does not have the authority to extend the Treasury's borrowing powers without congressional action. But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is challenging that claim, noting that the Obama administration has, in the words of CREW chief counsel Anne Weismann, adopted "an expansive view of executive power" in everything from the surveillance of U.S. citizens at home and the killing of Americans overseas.
0bama takes this position such that he can create a crisis. As much as his rhetoric claims against this 'crisis' stuff...he himself uses and creates it in order to control the sheeple. He gains far more than just the purse strings ...he gains power.
Note that we’re also seeing suggestions that members of Congress who defy the executive branch in a government closure should be charged with sedition.
I don’t think any of this is a coincidence, the ground is being laid for dictatorial powers to be seized in the next showdown. I expect we’ll see another refusal to negotiate from the White House in a few months, perhaps tied in with Amnesty.
Let’s see now...
Section 4 of that [14th] amendment states that,
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, AUTHORIZED BY LAW [my emphasis] ...shall not be questioned.”
When did Obama, all by himself, “authorize” a law?