Friday, July 01, 2011

the constitutional resolution of the debt ceiling stand off

all of a sudden, people are noting that section 4 of the fourteenth amendment says "The public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned." which means imposing a binding debt ceiling on the u.s. may be unconstitutional. tim geithner is suddenly citing that provision of the constitution and other commentators are jumping on the we-don't-need-a-bill-to-raise-the-debt-ceiling bandwagon.

WTF?!?!? didn't congress and the president just spend several weeks negotiating over what terrible cuts we will have to endure in order to get an extension on the debt ceiling? now they're telling us that we may not need to do this at all?!?!?

whether the constitution really prohibits it is an interesting issue. i'm not sure who is right. and i'm also not sure whether there is any plausible way to find out both because it might fall under the political question doctrine and because without the ability to borrow the courts might not operate to tell us the answer. but what makes no sense at all is why it took this long before people started bringing it up.