To the Editor:
First, Congress’ failure to raise the debt ceiling will cause a default on national debt. Contrary to President Barack Obama’s claims, Congress’ refusal to permit new borrowing by raising the debt ceiling will not trigger a default on America’s outstanding public debt with consequences for our credit rating and the world’s financial system. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment provides that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned”; this prevents Congress from rejecting lawfully incurred debts. This means a failure to raise the debt ceiling, to prevent new borrowing, does not and cannot put America’s current creditors at risk.
Second, despite Obama’s claims that Congress must raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills it has incurred, the obligations protected as “debts” by the 14th Amendment do not include entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. These programs are not part of the “public debt,” which consist of loans that are made to the federal government through bonds/ financial instruments.
Third, assertions made by Nancy Pelosi that the president can rely on Section 4 as a pretext for raising the debt ceiling by himself are incorrect and constitutionally dangerous. Section 4 grants no power whatsoever to the president, but the 14th Amendment grants Congress the “power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
Remember our children in understanding that spending cuts are necessary, given Obama’s unwillingness to implement any meaningful spending cuts and his clear preference for limitless borrowing from China.