Democrats to Obama: Skip Congress on Debt Ceiling

Reid, others say he should do so if Republicans won't budge

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 12, 2013 9:38 AM CST

(Newser) – Senate Democrats have a suggestion for President Obama if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling to pay the nation's bills: Obama should circumvent Congress and raise the ceiling himself, reports the Hill. An excerpt of a letter from Harry Reid and other Democrats to the White House:

  • “In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis—without Congressional approval, if necessary." (Politico has the full letter here.)

John Boehner insists that any increase in the ceiling be accompanied by spending cuts to entitlements and other programs. Obama insists he won't negotiate because the US is obligated to pay its bills. So how might he circumvent Congress if need be? The Washington Post lays out two possibilities in circulation:

  • The White House can cite the 14th Amendment, which declares that the nation's debt "shall not be questioned." Obama, however, reportedly thinks it's too much of a stretch.
  • Yep, the goofy platinum coin idea. The DC press corps likes to note that spokesman Jay Carney didn't explicitly rule it out when questioned.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid walks out of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on Jan. 4.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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