Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Question, how can the GOP be the “party of no” if they’re the only ones with offers on the table. To what are they saying no? This? Which begs the question, why isn’t no the right answer to that?
  2. Comparisons to history already?
  3. The other shoe to drop.
  4. Racism and drug policy. Heh.
  5. The American flag and how to do a really really bad study.
  6. Remember Obamacare.
  7. There’s a phrase for that, “A fool and his money … soon parted.”
  8. Global warming? “The point I want to make is that these difficult and technical questions were studied rationally in the 1960s; but they are no longer studied rationally today.” Yah think!
  9. There’s a word for that. Hypocrisy?
  10. That strikes me as a particularly slanted view of Nationalism. But I suppose one could twist the notion that a nation has rights within its boundaries that exceed the rights of other nations (to exercise rights within those boundaries) to mean a nation has rights “superior” to other nations. It’s wouldn’t be a particularly honest twist however.
  11. Of course it’s a setup … just like Democracy is the worst form of government, …. except for all the others.
  12. So, have you forgotten Egypt?
  13. A bet made. Two weeks?
  14. Green absolutism = stupidity.
  15. Flee.

9 responses to “Monday Highlights

  1. 1.Question, how can the GOP be the “party of no” if they’re the only ones with offers on the table. To what are they saying no? This? Which begs the question, why isn’t no the right answer to that?

    I think at this point Obama should play the Constitution card. Obama has no right to default on the debt (per the 14th amendment). He has no right to raise taxes, withhold tax refunds, credits etc. without an act of Congress. He also has no right NOT to spend money authorized to be spent after the ‘deadline’ (i.e. social security, medicare, defense, etc.). The one thing that is not Constitutional in that mix is this ‘debt ceiling’ which means when push comes to shove Obama should tell Republicans to shove it. There’s no requirement that he assist them in destroying the nation’s economy or credit worthiness. Come the deadline if they haven’t passed an increase business will continue as usual. Should Congress wish to pass a bill defunding Medicare or Social Security they can try to do so over his veto. In the meantime he is under no obligation to default on anything Congress actually passed.

  2. Boonton,
    I’ve not seen any lawyers speaking for the Constitution card. The WH lawyers have advised against it. Again, is this a card you want to have in the deck of the opposition party when they are in power?

    He also has no right NOT to spend money authorized to be spent after the ‘deadline’ (i.e. social security, medicare, defense, etc.).

    I don’t think that is right. I think the power of the purse (what money can be spent is held by Congress, and the power to disburse what is allocated is the power of the Executive. Implicit in the latter is the power to not spend).

    The debt ceiling is a law, which is Congress’s power to pass. And again it is in the Constitution that they have the power to allocate funds (which includes on their side, a ceiling).

  3. Boonton,
    In a situation where Congress has authorized both spending x,y, and z to different programs but that the total cannot exceed X … it is the Administration’s choice as to how to distribute. Default if it comes to that is a conscious choice by the Administration and the blame lies completely with him.

  4. I’ve not seen any lawyers speaking for the Constitution card. The WH lawyers have advised against it. Again, is this a card you want to have in the deck of the opposition party when they are in power?

    Well it does appear Constitutional. If Congress pass $80 in taxes and $100 in spending there’s no clause I see that allows the President to void that without getting another bill passed. On the other hand, there’s no ‘debt ceiling’ in the Constitution that I see.

    I don’t think that is right. I think the power of the purse (what money can be spent is held by Congress, and the power to disburse what is allocated is the power of the Executive. Implicit in the latter is the power to not spend).

    The power to disburse is not a power to veto spending. If Congress votes to spend $10B to build a bridge, for example, the Executive can withhold payment until the contractor finishes the bridge. The Executive cannot, though, decide that it doesn’t want a bridge after all.

    In a situation where Congress has authorized both spending x,y, and z to different programs but that the total cannot exceed X

    That’s not what Congress has ever done. IF Congress authorized spending on three different things but capped it at X, then the Executive could pick and choose. This happens quite often. For example the CIA’s budget is such and such and the Executive has a list of things Congress orders the CIA to specifically fund, lists things it specifically may not fund, and some things which are at the Executive’s discreation. If you can show me that Congress passed a law allowing the president to choose not to pay social security checks or Medicare payments then you may have something.

  5. And I wouldn’t make too much of WH lawyers advising against it. Lawyers are by nature always inclined to lean towards ‘safe’ advice. The fact is this is a Constitutional fuzzy area. The Constitution was written in an age where finance was only beginning to be really understood. As a result, the concept that there’s a difference between income/expenses and cash flows isn’t really reflected very well in it. Just as the Constitution is rather fuzzy about how the President’s role as commander of the armed forces reconcilies with Congress’s role to declare war.

    Where the Constitution is fuzzy, it has almost always been decided to be read in a pramatic manner. Hence we have monetary policy run by the Federal Reserve which, technically, isn’t ‘coining money’….

    The question is will Congress have the balls to really object? Look at Mitch McConnell’s ‘proposal’ from last week. He wanted Congress to give the President the ability to raise the limit himself…but Congress would pass a bill reversing the raise thereby allowing Obama to veto it. He would have the limit raised but at the same time give Congress the ability to say they voted against raising it! Hmmmpph.

    I would like to see Congressional Republicans try to seek a court order telling Obama to stop sending out Social Security checks or try to impeach him for issuing Medicare payments that Congress itself has authorized.

  6. Boonton,
    It seems to me the Democrats made a lot of noise about WH counsel during the Bush admin.

    This principle, of allowing the President to do any extra-Constitutional thing with the caveat that he should only not do those things that Congress “has the balls” to oppose. Sounds like Rome … do you want an Emperor? Or do you actually think rule of law a good thing. The principle that Congress allocates and the Executive spends is clear. Allocation means Congress has the right to set limits.

  7. Yes it is ballsy but extra-Constitutional? Where’s the ‘debt ceiling’ in the Constitution? Can’t find it. I do find that when Congress passes and the Pres. signs taxes and spending bills they become law. When the ceiling is reached there’s nothing in the Consitution that allows Obama to suddenly start collecting more taxes than Congress passed. Likewise, there’s no provision allowing him to stop issuing SSI checks or paying the army. Between a rock and a soft place, the soft place yields. Taxes and spending are hard coded into the Constitution, the debt ceiling is not.

  8. Boonton,
    You can’t find abortion as a right in the Constitution either. What’s your point?

    Likewise, there’s no provision allowing him to stop issuing SSI checks or paying the army.

    The President has the power to disburse the money

    Congres (not the President) has the power (Section Eight)

    To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

    Not the President. This is a power granted explicitly to Congress. The Debt ceiling is a power given to Congress.

    Ballsy? You advocated the notion that any action the President takes, not matter what, is Constitutional provided Congress doesn’t have the political will to oppose him. That seems an unsafe principle.

  9. I don’t think so, the spending power is given to Congress in Article 1, section 8 clause 1 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxing_and_Spending_Clause). You’re confusing disbursing money with spending. The President does not have a formal power to refuse to spend allocated funds (aka impoundment). I think there’s an implied power to delay spending when its necessary for execution (for example, Congress spends $1B to build a bridge, the executive doesn’t issue the check until the contractor finishes the bridge) of the spending and is dithering on the power to borrow.

    So it sounds like a bit of a paradox, Obama technically has to violate the Constitution no matter what he does. If he doesn’t spend he violates Congress’s power to spend. If he borrows he violates its power to borrow. I’ll still say two beats one. Congress passed the spending knowing borrowing was necessary and also knowing the impoundment law prohibits the President from not spending allocated funds. That implies borrow as needed to me unless Congress can specifically pass a law that says otherwise. (Of additional support here, the Constitution specifically states that taxes must originate as a bill in the House and spending must be done by bill, but it says nothing about borrowing leaving it a resonable conclusion that borrowing is authorized when spending is set above taxes) So now can you show me the law that Congress passed saying the President may violate its wishes on, say, Social Security by impounding the money to prevent additional borrowing?

    President’s have impounded funds in the past, but in 1974 Congress mostly eliminated this ability with the Impoundment Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impoundment_of_appropriated_funds). So Obama may be confronting a Congress that has allocated money to spend, a Congress that has effectively forbidden him from NOT spending the funds.

    Nothing is being taken from Congress. They are perfectly free to pass spending bills that have a ‘debt ceiling fuse’ in them that state “this spending shall not happen if the debt level is above X and tax revenues can’t cover this psending”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>