Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

Biden can’t “invoke’ the 14th Amendment because there is nothing to invoke

Most of the media is telling you the President is weighing his options as to whether or not he will invoke the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Wall Street Journal has an editorial which explains there is nothing to invoke and if Congress & Biden can’t agree on terms to raise the debt ceiling and Biden’s Administration chooses to default on U.S. debt, Biden and his Administration will, in fact, be in violation of the 14th Amendment.

Here’s the relevant text of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment:

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. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

The media is saying there is something in that text that will allow Biden to somehow issue new debt. This is totally incorrect.

What the 14th Amendment doesn’t allow is the claim by many progressives that the President can issue new debt without the consent of Congress. Merely because Congress has approved new spending doesn’t mean the President can issue new debt on his own authority to finance it. He can’t issue new debt on his own to finance Medicare, for example.

As Article I of the Constitution makes clear, that power belongs to Congress. Nor can the President issue new spending or forgive federal loans without Congress’s statutory approval. That’s what the challenge at the Supreme Court to Mr. Biden’s unilateral forgiveness of federal student loans is all about.

What the 14th Amendment Really Says – WSJ

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised the only thing that will happen is the government must prioritize paying debt. They may have to shut down parts of the government to do it but the WSJ points out there is clearly enough cash to continue paying the debt.

Treasury has more than enough cash to do this. Federal tax receipts in March were $313 billion and interest payments were $67 billion, according to Treasury’s monthly report on revenue and outlays. In April receipts were $639 billion and interest was $62 billion. It would be the height of fiscal irresponsibility if Treasury failed to use that cash to meet U.S. contractual debt obligations. Mr. Biden and Ms. Yellen would also be violating the law.

What the 14th Amendment Really Says – WSJ

If Biden chooses to violate the 14th Amendment is that a truly impeachable offense?