CBS News is playing its part in setting the stage for Obama to act unconstitutionally to either ignore or raise the debt ceiling on his own, using words like ‘crisis’ to make it sound more reasonable. They do present an ‘opposition’ argument (at the end of the article) to Obama acting unilaterally in this way, however they tend to play it down whereas they spend most of the article laying out reasons why Obama should act on his own and bypass Congress:
CBS NEWS – With so much at stake, some have argued that President Obama should ignore the debt limit, taking matters into his own hands. There are various legal justifications for the president to act unilaterally — some point to the expansive powers that U.S. presidents have historically assumed during times of crisis. Others point to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which states, “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.”
Others — including the Obama administration itself — have argued the president does not have the authority to act unilaterally and that doing so would have negative consequences.
Yet if Congress failed to raise the debt limit by Oct. 17, acting unilaterally may be the least bad option the president has, some argue.
“In an ideal world, looking at it from the perspective of the Constitution and the type of government that the Constitution establishes, we would all be better off if Congress did its job and the president was able to do his job,” Elizabeth Wydra, a constitutional expert and chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center, told CBSNews.com. “The president could be put in a very difficult position where he simply can’t follow all of Congress’ directions at once, and given the constitutional guidance from the 14th Amendment, his least unconstitutional option would be to ignore the debt ceiling.”
The 14th Amendment was passed in the aftermath of the Civil War to ensure the payments of Union debt over any objections from Southern congressmen.
“It’s simply a historical fact that the framers of the 14th Amendment chose language that would protect the national debt broadly,” Wydra argued. “They didn’t want to focus on just Confederate debt or Union debt — they were thinking about the general interests of the country and the importance they placed on protecting the nation’s credit and withdrawing it from the power of Congress to deny it.”
If the administration chose to reverse course and embrace the 14th Amendment argument, it could simply ignore the debt limit. Wydra argued, however, that this one-time action wouldn’t do away with the statutory requirement for Congress to set a debt limit.
“I don’t think that the framers of the 14th Amendment envisioned a lengthy period where the public debt would be questioned,” she said.
Similarly, if the president embraced broad emergency powers to continue paying off debt, it would only be a temporary solution, argued Brookings fellow Saul Jackman, an expert on executive institutions and inter-branch relations.
“Presidential powers, especially during emergencies… are very vaguely defined and allow for a lot of manifestations of power as the times demand of them,” he told CBSNews.com. “This is not going to be a permanent power. These powers tend to rescind away once the crisis is over.”
Jackman said Mr. Obama could use emergency powers to, for instance, raise the debt limit with an executive order. Presidents have throughout history stretched their executive authority during times of crisis, he pointed out: During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt set price controls and prevented labor strikes to manipulate the economy. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush declared a national emergency and issued special federal aid to New Orleans.