President Obama should ask himself, ‘What would Lincoln do?’

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

In December, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated, “This administration does not believe the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period.”  White House Dismisses Constitutional Challenge In Debt Ceiling Saga:

That challenge led [Cornell law professor Michael Dorf] and George Washington University professor Neil
Buchanan to a rather unusual conclusion, in a new article they published
in the Columbia Law Review: Given a choice between only unconstitutional options, the president should choose the "least unconstitutional" option. [See, How to Choose The Least Unconstitutional Option: Lessons For The President (And Others) From the Debt Ceiling Standoff – Columbia Law Review (.pdf).]

Which, Dorf says, means the White House could raise the debt limit on its own and issue Treasury bonds to raise money.

That
solution, beyond being against the law, has another problem. The
markets don't like uncertainty. And anyone who wants to buy those bonds
might demand huge interest payments to compensate for the legal risk
involved.

There's one more complication, courtesy of Steve
Bradbury, a Washington lawyer who formerly headed up the Office of Legal
Counsel at the Justice Department for President George W. Bush.
Bradbury says the Antideficiency Act
makes it clear the White House can't obligate the U.S. government to
pay money without an appropriation from Congress or other direction, in
the form of a law.

"Executive officers who spend money when it's not authorized or incur
debt that hasn't been authorized by statute are actually violating
federal law," Bradbury says. "And in fact, although there have not been
prosecutions under that statute, it is a criminal statute," exposing
government officials to inspector general and General Accounting Office
investigations, if nothing else.

The White House referred the $1 trillion-dollar platinum coin option, widely discussed by legal scholars and economists in recent weeks, to the U.S. Treasury Department for an opinion. "The Treasury Department has responded that it will not mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin to get around the debt
ceiling. If they did, the Federal Reserve would not accept it." Treasury: We won’t mint a platinum coin to sidestep the debt ceiling:

That’s the bottom line of the statement that Anthony Coley, a spokesman
for the Treasury Department, gave me today. “Neither the Treasury
Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should
be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose
of avoiding an increase in the debt limit,” he said.

The inclusion of the Federal Reserve is significant. For the platinum
coin idea to work, the Federal Reserve would have to treat it as a legal
way for the Treasury Department to create currency. If they don’t
believe it’s legal and would not credit the Treasury Department’s
deposit, the platinum coin would be worthless.

* * *

As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put it, “there are only two
options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or they
can fail to act and put the nation into default.”

Wrong, Mr. Carney. The abdication by Congress of its responsibility to govern does not relieve the President of his responsibility to govern and to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution."

This was the choice faced by President Abraham Lincoln the last time insurrectionists threatened to destroy our Union. Professors Dorf and Buchanan addressed this in their Columbia Law Review article — President Lincoln’s famous “all the laws, but one” speech:

The relevant discussion appears in President Abraham Lincoln’s address to a special session of Congress in July 1861. In late April, President Lincoln had ordered the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus suspended between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. When that order was carried out, Chief Justice Taney declared the presidential suspension unconstitutional, but the writ he issued was ignored. Speaking to Congress a little over a month later, President Lincoln argued that his
suspension order was constitutional, but before coming to that point he claimed that even if Congress alone had the power to suspend the privilege of the writ, an unconstitutional presidential suspension was nonetheless justified as the least unconstitutional option available. He asked rhetorically, “are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?”

It is clear from the context that the one “law” that warranted violation in President Lincoln’s hypothetical example was a constitutional provision: the Suspension Clause. But Lincoln implied that failure to violate the Suspension Clause would be a greater violation of the Constitution, as it would betray the Presidential Oath, which requires the president to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

President Obama is faced with Abraham Lincoln's choice. Tea-Publican economic terrorists have taken the country hostage and threaten to destroy the Union by reducing our government to a banana republic under the control of wealthy elite plutocrats. They are doing so in service to their lord and master, the Tax Fairy, Grover Norquist, who decreed: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Make no mistake, these economic terrorists are anti-government insurrectionists at war with the United States government. And President Obama has a constitutional duty to do whatever is necessary to preserve the Union and to put down this insurrection against the United States government.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his leadership team sent President Obama a letter
urging him to “to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not
break its promises and trigger a global crisis — without congressional
approval, if necessary.”

President Obama should ask himself, "What would Lincoln do?" The answer is clear, Mr. President.

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