Our good friend Perry’s latest mantra is that we have a “dysfunctional Congress,” which means, well, I don’t know what it means.¹ But one wonders what Perry would say if Congress declines to pass an increase in the statutory debt limit, and President Obama simply ignores the ceiling and keeps borrowing anyway. From Allahpundit:
Hot new idea: What if Obama just ignores Congress on the debt ceiling?
posted at 3:50 pm on June 25, 2011 by Allahpundit
Yeah, why not? That’s perfectly in keeping with Obama’s M.O. when the legislature gets in his way. Can’t get Congress to move on cap and trade? Make the EPA do something. Don’t want to beg Congress to authorize war in Libya? Send in the Air Force and forget about it.
Annoyed that Congress has refused to raise the debt ceiling because you can’t reach a deal on deficit reduction? Just keep selling Treasury securities and apply the proceeds to paying interest on the debt, then dare the House and Senate to do something about it.
There’s much more at the link, including an argument from The New Republic that the debt limit itself is inherently unconstitutional:
But even if standing could be established and the Obama administration gets taken to court, some legal experts note that an additional argument of surprising strength could be made: The government cannot legally default on its debts. Former Reagan official and maverick conservative budget wonk Bruce Bartlett has suggested as much by invoking Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” Although there has been little litigation or discussion of this section, it could be read to imply an absolute firewall against statutory limits on paying or devaluing the debt.
Allahpundit then added:
Now there’s a campaign platform I’d like to see in time for the 2012 election: “The Constitution lets me run up as much debt as I want and there’s nothing your representatives can do to stop me.”
Now, the obvious counter is that the Constitution puts paying our past, legally-incurred obligations ahead of other spending, but how do you determine what gets cut? The Line Item Veto Act of 1996 was held to be unconstitutional in Clinton v City of New York (524 U.S. 417 (1998)), so the selection of non-debt-repayment items to be deleted would not be solely up to President Obama, and if the Congress couldn’t then agree on what already-appropriated items were to be sequestered, then each appropriated item would have just as much of an obligation to be spent as any other.
So, if the Congress does what the people who elected it to do, which is not borrow more money, and declines to raise the debt ceiling, and President Obama goes ahead and takes unilateral action and exceeds the statutory debt limit anyway, will Perry start complaining about “Dictator Obama,” or will he continue the “dysfunctional Congress” meme, and tell us that the President simply had to do what he did?
¹ – Whatever he means, he has used “dysfunctional Congress” enough times in the past two days for me to wonder if that was the latest DNC talking point he was e-mailed.