Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner apparently told lawmakers in the private bipartisan debt ceiling talks yesterday that the so-called Constitutional Option, or invoking the 14th amendment guarantee that “[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned,” was not a legal means for continuing to issue new debt if Congress fails to raise the debt limit.
In addition to his warnings about the cost of a default, officials said, Mr. Geithner told the lawmakers the White House did not believe it had the authority, under the Constitution, to continue issuing debt if it reached the debt ceiling. Nobody in the room disputed Mr. Geithner’s bleak assessment, the officials said.
Liberal journalists and even some economists have been suggesting this as a means for getting around the debt limit imposed by Congress on the Treasury, but with Geithner apparently waving it off, and Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law Professor who appeared in TV ads for Obama’s campaign in 2007, writing today this is legally untenable, all the pressure is on John Boehner and Barack Obama to make this happen.
Copyright 2011 The National Memo