Dems' Possible Strategy: Declare Debt Ceiling Unconstitutional

Proponents say it violates the 14th Amendment
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2011 12:23 PM CDT
Dems' Possible Strategy: Declare Debt Ceiling Unconstitutional
With no deal coming on raising the US debt ceiling, some Democrats are talking about declaring the limit unconstitutional, saying it violates the 14th Amendment.   (Wikipedia Commons)

(Newser) – In their fight to raise the debt ceiling, a move largely opposed by Tea Party Republicans, Democrats are considering a surprise weapon—the Constitution. With negotiations at an impasse and default looming, Democrats are thinking of declaring the debt ceiling itself unconstitutional, as the 14th Amendment reads: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned." It's a "fascinating" approach, Washington Sen. Patty Murray tells the Huffington Post. "What we're really saying is, 'We have to pay our bills.'"

The debt language in the amendment, written in 1868, was added to clarify that while Confederate debt would not be recognized after the war, the US government's loans were still good. However, the move could still spook the markets. "[E]very professional—either an economist or a currently practicing professional in the bond markets or financial services—unanimously their input to me has been, 'You don't even want to have this debate, you don't want to terrify the markets by arguing over the interpretation of a previously irrelevant or not often applied provision of the Constitution,'" said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. Click for more on the strategy. (Read more Chris Coons stories.)

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