Congress has more authority than they’re using over the national debt

Constitutional attorney David Rivkin offers novel solution in Wall Street Journal

Published on May 12, 2011


OfficialWire PR News Bureau

Former White House lawyer, David B. Rivkin, Jr., who is often ahead of the curve in matters of conservative strategy, addressed the country’s runaway debt problem in a May 12 editorial written for The Wall Street Journal.

The article, written by Rivkin and law colleague Lee Casey, specifically points to Section Four of the 14th Amendment, which forbids any default on the outstanding federal debt. “Section Four can become a powerful hammer for the budget hwawks if Congress simply reclaims its constitutional pre-eminence in the borrowing process,” the piece argued.

Rivkin then pointed out that the 14th Amendment forbids dishonoring “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law” which makes the country a greater credit risk since the U.S. constitutionally cannot default on its financial obligations.

Congress should promptly increase the debt ceiling, Rivkin wrote, but with one key caveat: “The increase can be used only for borrowing to service existing obligations.”

This move would make it “difficult, if not impossible, for the Obama administration” to oppose this resolution in the debt-ceiling battle, while giving Congress the ability to “reclaim immediate control of the issuance of all new debt obligations.”

Currently, nearly 40 cents of every dollar the government spends is borrowed money. Rivkin explained that it would not be necessary to repeal the existing “debt ceiling” statutory framework, when instead Congress could “condition, decrease and even stop issuance of new debt.” But were Congress to reclaim its authority, Rivkin argued, it would also need to reclaim responsibility.

“With political power, comes political responsibility,” Rivkin wrote. “And that, more than anything else, is what the voters who brought a Republican majority back to the House of Representatives wanted.”



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