WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Thursday that the Constitution may trump the debt ceiling, allowing the administration a way out of the default impasse.
Negotiators are considering gutting the social safety net in exchange for a vote to lift the debt ceiling. Grassley, in a conference call with local reporters, said that there may be another way out.
"There's one thing that hasn't been talked about yet, and I haven't checked on the constitutionality of it -- and I read the Constitution, but I don't remember reading this -- but in the 14th amendment, there's something that says something about the debt of the United States government shall be honored," Grassley said, according to a recording of the call. "The 14th Amendment includes a public debt clause that insists the obligations of the government 'shall not be questioned.'"
"So people are looking at the fact that maybe the debt ceiling bill that Congress presumably has to pass for the government to borrow more maybe is contrary to that constitutional provision, and that the administration may take out [loans] on their own -- just to borrow money -- and say that they can ignore the law," he said.
Of course, this is a very interesting issue.
Whatever the ACTUAL, LEGITIMATE Constitutional interpretation for taking this position, IMO it WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR OBAMA TO POLITICALLY SURVIVE taking this position for at least 3 reasons.
1) He voted against extending the Debt Limit, NOT - as far as I know - because it was unconstitutional and, to my knowledge, has never before embraced that position.
2) THE NARRATIVE about Dems in general does not give him a solid footing IN THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION for taking a strong stand based on a Constitutional PRINCIPAL
3) THE RIGHT WING NARRATIVE (most recently reflected in Rove's PAC's ads re: no more "blank check") about Obama acting like a dictator would be "confirmed" by an action or threat of action by the President that essentially says he can continue spending (even based on laws passed by the Congress) without action by the Congress
Of course, the racial animosities that underlie SOME of the opposition to Obama would be inflamed - possibly to a point of violence.
If the President were to embrace what seems a reasonable interpretation of the 14th Amendment - WITHOUT wide and deep support from Repubs and Tea's - it would be his political end.