Writers like, Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent, who have bought into the idea that that debt ceiling must be raised by August 2nd to avoid catastrophe, are very worried about this new Pew poll that found the country evenly divided on the dangers of the debt ceiling. The poll found that 39 percent thought we could go past the August 2nd deadline with out major economic problems while 40 percent said failure to act would cause an economic crisis.
Unlike them though, I’m not at all convince that this 39 percent of the country is actually wrong. Much of this 39 percent maybe totally mistaken about why going past the August 2nd deadline won’t cause a crisis, but there is a a strong logical case to be made for why going past that deadline won’t cause result in a crisis.
If we reach August 2nd deadline with no hope of a deal President Obama will have only two choices.
- Obama could choose follow the debt ceiling law and stop sending out some checks. Following the debt ceiling law would still mean actually breaking other laws that approved this spending. This is a move that could cause serious economic problems and effectively guaranty Obama lost the 2012 re-election.
- Obama could use some means to get around or ignore the debt ceiling. He could mint a trillion dollar coin or use the 14th amendment to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional. Going this route would likely avoid major economic problems.
Using the 14th amendment to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional won’t be so a last minute extralegal contrived plan to avoid economic disaster. It is legitimate option supported by a plain reading of the text, the legislative history of the amendment and endorse by former President Bill Clinton.
A true default crisis doesn’t just require nihilist madness from Congressional Republicans, it would take a similar level of insanity from Obama.
To believe going past the August 2nd deadline would cause economic crisis requires one to believe President Obama would actively choose to allow a re-election destroying, default crisis to happen, instead of deciding to using tools at his disposal to avoid it. It is possible that Obama is that crazy, that unconcerned about his re-election and/or that absolutely convinced Clinton understanding of the 14th amendment is flawed. But I wouldn’t consider you wrong to doubt it.