Sunday, June 26, 2011
A Chink in Their Armor
Put your thinking cap on. You have to look below the surface. On Friday, I was telling you that James Fallows was convincing me I was wrong about the debt ceiling fight. Today, I hear this on Marketplace’s podcast from Friday.
President could make good on U.S. obligations
”KAI RYSSDAL: So we are, as of this Friday in late June, a bit more than five weeks away from the government hitting the debt limit -- $14.3 trillion and not a penny more. Conventional wisdom has it that when the Treasury can't borrow to pay our bills anymore, it'll be something close to economic Armageddon. But here's a not-unrelated thought. What if the debt ceiling isn't constitutional?”
It’s a compelling theory. Listen up.
”JOHN DIMSDALE Here's how the argument goes: When Congress passes spending bills, it knows there isn't enough cash to pay for it all. By approving those obligations anyway, Congress is implicitly committing the government to borrow the money to meet them. By later imposing a limit on borrowing -- which is what the debt ceiling is -- Congress is illegally counteracting its own laws.”
And then, of course, Kai (Marketplace’s host) brings in the experts to talk about it.
”NORMAN ORNSTEIN: Let's face it, the reality is having a separate vote on the debt ceiling makes no sense.
Norman Ornstein follows Congress and the executive branch for the American Enterprise Institute.
ORNSTEIN: The debt ceiling is a reflection of the debts that you have already incurred. And every time Congress passes a budget, it's obligating itself to future debts.”
Did you catch it? I was listening while I was cutting grass and I had to stop, rewind the iPod and listen again. The American Enterprise Institute is telling President Obama how to do an end run around the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
I think my regular readers have the Flick when it comes to the AEI. For those that don’t:
”Some AEI scholars are considered to be some of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy. More than twenty AEI scholars and fellows served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions.”
For those that really want to delve into it (something I highly encourage) be sure to follow the links on Wikipedia. I suggest looking at AEI’s current and past president -- Arthur C. Brooks and Christopher DeMuth, respectively. DeMuth was Reagan’s “deregulation czar” and Brooks’ remarks on the Tea Party are priceless -- in that what AEI is doing is giving President Obama a way to cut the Tea Party off at the knees.
It’s the Tea Party’s boy -- Eric Cantor -- that walked away from the talks. He can’t (and won’t) make a deal to raise the debt limit. He’ll have to leave that to Bohner and the adult Republicans.
As I said yesterday, I believe “Frankenstein has lost control of his monster.”
Not to worry too much about all this. It’s only the world’s economy that hangs in the balance. But you can bet the folks at AEI are already thinking of a way to use this to undercut Obama at a later date. After we make sure the U.S. doesn’t default on its debt and spark at world-wide panic. Funny, I was just reading about that word -- Panic -- today.
”So as not to alarm the public, President Hoover chose his words carefully when he discussed the state of the economy in 1929. American economists and politicians had referred to previous economic downturns as "Panics," such as the "Panic of 1873" and the "Panic of 1893." Hoover, however, called this latest downturn a "Depression" rather than a "Panic," and the name stuck.”
I hope President Obama sees the chink in the Republican’s armor and takes the opportunity to drive home the point. The Big Business branch of the Republican Party just threw the Tea Party branch under the bus.
June 25, 2011