Economic terrorism in violation of the Constitution is not to be tolerated

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was
a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn't think
that. What we did learn is this — it's a hostage that's worth
ransoming.”
(Mitch McConnell, August 3, 2011)

The speaker told the president to his face that everything you
want in life comes with a price. That doesn’t change here
,” the
Republican aide said. “I don’t think he has any choice.” (John Boehner, January 2, 2013)

Economic terrorism in violation of the Constitution is not to be tolerated, and the feckless media villagers need to call this out for what it is. As Greg Sargent writes today at the Plum Line:

So John Boehner is explicitly declaring that raising the debt ceiling will have a “price.” I’m going to reiterate
that it’s absolutely appalling that news orgs continue to report on
this as a conventional negotiating tactic
, in which each side withholds
concessions to extract more from the other. In this case, the eventual
GOP agreement to raise the debt ceiling — and Republicans will
agree to it, and they know it — will not represent a concession on
Republicans’ part. Republicans will not be giving up anything in doing
this; they will simply be agreeing not to do extreme damage to the
economy and the whole country. Yet Republicans will treat this as a
concession for which they should be rewarded by concessions from Dems.

People need to stop pretending this is business as usual and start calling this out for what it is.

Sargent expounds on this further in The Morning Plum: Media shouldn’t get rolled by GOP debt ceiling spin:

The papers are filled with articles reporting in a matter-of-fact way
that Republicans plan to use the debt ceiling fight to extract major
spending cuts from the White House and Democrats. Mitch McConnell is out there this morning calling for a quick resolution to the standoff — one that exchanges a debt limit hike for deep cuts.

The early returns, based on the coverage of this looming battle so
far, suggest Republicans are successfully defining the terms of this
debate — they are defining it as a standard Washington standoff, in
which each side will demand concessions from the other. Indeed, you can
read through reams of the coverage without learning three basic facts
about this fight:

1) Republican leaders will ultimately agree to raise the debt ceiling, and they know it, because they themselves have previously admitted that not doing so will badly damage the economy.

2) Because of the above, a hike in the debt ceiling is not something
that Democratic leaders want and that Republican leaders don’t. In other
words, it is not a typical bargaining chip in negotiations, in the way
spending cuts (which Republicans want and Dems don’t) or tax hikes
(which Dems want and Republicans don’t) are.

3) And so, if and when Republicans do agree to raise the debt
ceiling, it will not constitute any kind of concession on their part —
even though they will continue to portray it as such to demand
concessions in return. It will only constitute Republicans agreeing not
to damage the whole country, which does not constitute (one hopes) them
making a sacrifice.

Without these facts, it is simply impossible for readers and viewers
to understand the basic situation that’s unfolding here
. Indeed, you can
read through much of the coverage and come away with the sense that
this is a typical negotiation: Democrats want a rise in the debt
ceiling; Republicans want spending cuts; therefore, the two sides are
squaring off for a game of chicken to see who can extract more from the
other. That’s not what’s happening at all, and any accounts that portray
it as such present a deeply unbalanced picture.

It’s true that some Congressional conservatives say they
don’t want a hike in the debt ceiling. But when they say that, all they
really mean is that they want to cut spending, which we already know. As
Paul Krugman recently put it,
“raising the debt ceiling only empowers the president to spend money
that he’s authorized to spend by Congressional legislation; nothing
more.” In the current context, conservatives and Republicans who hold
out against a debt limit hike are, in practical terms, only
threatening the full faith and credit of the United States — and
threatening to damage the economy — in order to get what they want
. Any
accounts that don’t convey this with total clarity — and convey the
sense that this is a normal negotiation — are essentially misleading
people. It’s that simple.

Defaulting on the debts already incurred by Congress is not an option. It is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. For a discussion of the legal analysis by law professor Jack Balkiin, see Does the 14th Amendment preclude defaulting on the national debt?, and (Update) Does the 14th Amendment preclude defaulting on the national debt?:

I believe that section 4 was designed to prevent what the
Republican leaders of Congress are currently doing. Members of Congress
should stop trying to use the risk of default to hold the country
hostage in order to win concessions on ordinary matters of politics. The
should simply increase the debt ceiling to match appropriations that
Congress has already made. Then they should have negotiations about
taxes and federal spending.

President Obama is correct: defaulting on the national debt is not subject to negotiation. The full faith and credit of the United States is a constitutional duty of of both the Congress and the executive.

UPDATE: Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog on McConnell Declares War:

[I]f this insufferable man continues to assert he’s happy to plunge the
national and perhaps even global economy into chaos if he doesn’t get
his way, the White House should reconsider its eschewal of the “14th amendment option”
for boosting the debt limit without congressional action. It’s one
thing to negotiate with hostage-takers. It’s another altogether to
treat them with respect when they refuse to negotiate.

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