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John
Interests: Mr. Nail graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in art history and earned his CLU designation in 1984. An avid golfer, Civil War history buff, and memorabilia collector, Mr. Nail is also the father of three ages 24, 6 and 3 and maintains his office and home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Recent Activity
"Obama wasn't born with a"silver spoon" in his mouth? Really? He graduated from Punahou School the most prestigous private school in the State of Hawaii. His grandmother was a bank president and he managed to attend Harvard law School." Obama's grandmother retired as a VP in the bank. He also had a scolarship to Punahou for sports... He also had scholarships and loans for collegenand law,school....
I am going to approach this Constitutional debate from another angle. That President Obama would risk impeachment by NOT acting under the 14th Amendment to prevent default. Whether any of us like it or not it this debt ceiling debate is all about the “obligations” that Congress over time has signed into law, not the bonds. The ceiling raise has nothing to do with future spending, only that which has already been committed to by this and prior sessions of Congress over out history. We elected them, they act via their Constitutional responsibility passes laws/funding programs, we own it and has the “full faith and credit” of the US behind it. These are all laws that then need to be upheld, ie honored. The Constitution is by definition the original document plus any and all Amendments to it so trying to separate the two is a specious argument as well. In PERRY V. UNITED STATES, 294 U. S. 330 (1935)SCOTUS addreses the larger context of debt as “obligations” that further supports the notion that default would be unconstitutional and thus stopping it would be required of the President: “…The government’s contention thus raises a question of far greater importance than the particular claim of the plaintiff. On that reasoning, if the terms of the government’s bond as to the standard of payment can be repudiated, it inevitably follows that the obligation as to the amount to be paid may also be repudiated. The contention necessarily imports that the Congress can disregard the obligations of the government at its discretion, and that, when the government borrows money, the credit of the United States is an illusory pledge. We do not so read the Constitution….To say that the Congress may withdraw or ignore that pledge is to assume that the Constitution contemplates a vain promise; a pledge having no other sanction than the pleasure and convenience of the pledgor. This Court has given no sanction to such a conception of the obligations of our government. The Fourteenth Amendment, in its fourth section, explicitly declares: ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, * * * shall not be questioned.’ While this provision was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation. We regard it as confirmatory of a fundamental principle which applies as well to the government bonds in question, and to others duly authorized by the Congress, as to those issued before the amendment was adopted. Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression ‘the validity of the public debt’ as embracing whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.” The office of the President as “Chief Executive” is empowered by the Constitution that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”. He is also Constitutionally bound by his oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” This creates a slippery slope for any President. In other words he has no choice in acting per the Constitution lest he violate his oath and for that could be subject to impeachment. A secondary argument, slightly less compelling, is that in his job as Commander in Chief to protect the nation against any threats could be cited here. A default that plunges the nation into another recession and costs the taxpayers hundreds of billions in additional Federal interest payments and billions more in higher credit card, mortgage and consumer loans threatens the nation as much as any war or attack does. Not acting would weaken the nation considerably and his failure to protect the nation from this sort of “attack” would also be seen as a failure to fulfill his oath. So the 14th/PERRY V. UNITED STATES makes it clear on the debt’s validity and the fact that it cannot be abrogated in anyway that diminishes the full faith and credit of the nation and its trust with any one owed money via a statute approved by Congress, be it your mom on SS, a cleaning contractor for a federal building or foreign nations holding bonds. All are equally valid and must be honored. So no action by Congress is illegal and the Debt Ceiling law in any dispute is trumped by the Constitution. In “Perry” Chief Justice Hughes wrote the majority opinion: “We do not so read the Constitution…the Congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations.” Altering those obligations means that the terms of meeting them cannot be changed in anyway so even a default of a few days or a program to pay bills in some order with revenues is not allowed. So inaction that allows any sort of modification is out of the question as well. If Obama does not act to avert the crisis if negotiations fail that is a more compelling reason to Impeach than trying to claim that he exceeds his Constitutional power in resolving the crisis using the 14th.
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2011 on Debt Limit Options at Economist's View
1 reply
I am going to approach this Constitutional debate from another angle. That President Obama would risk impeachment by NOT acting under the 14th Amendment to prevent default. Whether any of us like it or not it this debt ceiling debate is all about the “obligations” that Congress over time has signed into law, not the bonds. The ceiling raise has nothing to do with future spending, only that which has already been committed to by this and prior sessions of Congress over out history. We elected them, they act via their Constitutional responsibility passes laws/funding programs, we own it and has the “full faith and credit” of the US behind it. These are all laws that then need to be upheld, ie honored. The Constitution is by definition the original document plus any and all Amendments to it so trying to separate the two is a specious argument as well. In PERRY V. UNITED STATES, 294 U. S. 330 (1935)SCOTUS addreses the larger context of debt as “obligations” that further supports the notion that default would be unconstitutional and thus stopping it would be required of the President: “…The government’s contention thus raises a question of far greater importance than the particular claim of the plaintiff. On that reasoning, if the terms of the government’s bond as to the standard of payment can be repudiated, it inevitably follows that the obligation as to the amount to be paid may also be repudiated. The contention necessarily imports that the Congress can disregard the obligations of the government at its discretion, and that, when the government borrows money, the credit of the United States is an illusory pledge. We do not so read the Constitution….To say that the Congress may withdraw or ignore that pledge is to assume that the Constitution contemplates a vain promise; a pledge having no other sanction than the pleasure and convenience of the pledgor. This Court has given no sanction to such a conception of the obligations of our government. The Fourteenth Amendment, in its fourth section, explicitly declares: 'The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, * * * shall not be questioned.' While this provision was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation. We regard it as confirmatory of a fundamental principle which applies as well to the government bonds in question, and to others duly authorized by the Congress, as to those issued before the amendment was adopted. Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression 'the validity of the public debt' as embracing whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations." The office of the President as “Chief Executive” is empowered by the Constitution that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”. He is also Constitutionally bound by his oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” This creates a slippery slope for any President. In other words he has no choice in acting per the Constitution lest he violate his oath and for that could be subject to impeachment. A secondary argument, slightly less compelling, is that in his job as Commander in Chief to protect the nation against any threats could be cited here. A default that plunges the nation into another recession and costs the taxpayers hundreds of billions in additional Federal interest payments and billions more in higher credit card, mortgage and consumer loans threatens the nation as much as any war or attack does. Not acting would weaken the nation considerably and his failure to protect the nation from this sort of “attack” would also be seen as a failure to fulfill his oath. So the 14th/PERRY V. UNITED STATES makes it clear on the debt’s validity and the fact that it cannot be abrogated in anyway that diminishes the full faith and credit of the nation and its trust with any one owed money via a statute approved by Congress, be it your mom on SS, a cleaning contractor for a federal building or foreign nations holding bonds. All are equally valid and must be honored. So no action by Congress is illegal and the Debt Ceiling law in any dispute is trumped by the Constitution. In “Perry” Chief Justice Hughes wrote the majority opinion: “We do not so read the Constitution…the Congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations.” Altering those obligations means that the terms of meeting them cannot be changed in anyway so even a default of a few days or a program to pay bills in some order with revenues is not allowed. So inaction that allows any sort of modification is out of the question as well. If Obama does not act to avert the crisis if negotiations fail that is a more compelling reason to Impeach than trying to claim that he exceeds his Constitutional power in resolving the crisis using the 14th.
1 reply
If I understand this the Constitution trumps any other law like the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling raise is needed not for new spending but that that has been already authorized by Congress, ie by law and thus the President has 2 duties: 1) Uphold all laws that have been passed 2) The debt has already been committed to over many years so it is valid and "shall not be questioned. That makes using the 14th a no brainer. The Presidential oath also requires the President to protect and defend the Constitution. If he does not follow it as laid out above one could argue you could impeach him as well. In fact all members of Congress took a similar oath so their inaction to provide the debt ceiling action needed to fund the laws passed by them could be deemed a violation of their oath of office subjecting Boehner in particular to impeachment. Right? The other issue here is that failure to protect the nation's financial system from a meltdown is akin to "war" and the President again is bound to protect the nation as well. Keeping the nation from falling into a deeper recession, higher borrowing costs, higher deficits due to a double dip and the world losing faith in the US as a reserve currency makes his inaction on the 14th impeachable to me. Failure to act has been estimated to cost the US $50B minimum directly for even a few day default due to increased debt rollover costs and as much as a trillion over a decade not to mention higher borrowing costs for consumers and business as well. The President has put forth $2T in cuts and asked for $400B in tax loopholes being closed. Every deficit reduction plan that Reagan, Bush I and Clinton did required a combination. Why can't the Repubs simply negotiate in good faith and get this done? If they do not they will get hung out to dry by the President being forced to act under his Constitutional duty. That surely isn't going to help them defeat Obama. It might just sew up his re-election before they even have a primary. If they think he isn't tough enough to do this. Just remember the Sunday nite we found about Osama or the Somali pirates that were taken out right after he took office. If he needs to he will act and get the job done as he should, no doubt about it. PERRY V. UNITED STATES, 294 U. S. 330 (1935) The government’s contention thus raises a question of far greater importance than the particular claim of the plaintiff. On that reasoning, if the terms of the government’s bond as to the standard of payment can be repudiated, it inevitably follows that the obligation as to the amount to be paid may also be repudiated. The contention necessarily imports that the Congress can disregard the obligations of the government at its discretion, and that, when the government borrows money, the credit of the United States is an illusory pledge… The Constitution gives to the Congress the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States, an unqualified power, a power vital to the government, upon which in an extremity its very life may depend. The binding quality of the promise of the United States is of the essence of the credit which is so pledged. Having this power to authorize the issue of definite obligations for the payment of money borrowed, the Congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations.
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Mar 15, 2010