The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

How will Obama solve the debt limit problem?

It’s not the President’s job to solve the debt limit problem, it is the job of Congress to do that. There is no Constitutional ambiguity on this point. The Constitution clearly divides power between the three branches of government and it gives the responsibility for these powers to the legislative branch:

  • To raise revenue;
  • to impose and collect taxes;
  • to pay debts, and;
  • to borrow money.

It couldn’t possibly be more clear.

Obama’s Constitutional duty as President is to manage and execute the laws enacted by Congress. In the event Congress behaves irresponsibly and refuses to provide the funds necessary to honor prior legislative expenditures and appropriations, then the President must do the best he can with what funds he has available. The President must prioritize government expenditures and pay the more essential functions or obligations before the less essential ones. Where have we heard this language before? Where does a discussion of essential and non-essential government functions crop up?

Essential and non-essential government functions is the language of government shutdown when Congress fails to authorize budget appropriations. Failure of the Congressional appropriation process is the closest analogy to the current failure of Congressional fundraising process. In this circumstance Congress has already enacted the budget appropriations , as solemn acts of law, but it has failed to provide the necessary funds through taxation or borrowing. In either scenario, government shutdown is the inevitable result. With significantly less than the full amount needed to pay all the bills and expenses of prior Congressional appropriations, President Obama has few options other than stopping all non-essential government activity and paying for as many of the essential functions that available funds and creative accounting allow.

If the Congressional impasse continues unresolved, the result will be exactly like a government shutdown for non-appropriation, except the long term consequences will be much worse.

Related post: Why Obama cannot use 14th Amendment on debt ceiling

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Written by Tom Fox

07/29/2011 at 9:41 am

Posted in Politics

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