November 30, 2012
The former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and current Treasury boss Timothy Geithner has informed Republicans that Obama wants absolute authority to increase the national debt.
Geithner’s proposal was met with derision and laughter by Republicans.
“Well, it’s outrageous,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Fox News when asked about Obama’s plan to personally dictate the finances of the United States. “It’s profoundly irresponsible. So that’s a crazy idea and I’m amazed that Secretary Geithner had the courage to float that yesterday.”
The idea floated by Geithner would give the president sole power to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling at any time. Congress could pass a resolution to stop the increase, but it would require a two-thirds vote of both chambers to pass and could still be vetoed by the president.
As it now stands, the so-called debt ceiling can only be increased following a vote by Congress.
Prior to the First World War, Congress directly authorized the amount borrowed through the Treasury Department, but this was changed in 1917 to pay for a scheduled war. The increase was termed a debt ceiling. It has been raised 78 times since 1917 (in 2001 alone, it was raised an astounding 11 times).
In order to raise the debt ceiling, Congress must enact specific legislation that must be signed by the president. Obama now wants to raise the debt ceiling and borrow money from the Federal Reserve without the approval of Congress or the American people.
Allowing Obama to unilaterally jack up the debt is unconstitutional. Article One of the Constitution assigns the authority to “borrow Money on the credit of the United States” to Congress, not the executive.
“This is not just a fetishization of the Constitution,” writes John Carney. “Even if we were starting from scratch, we’d want to incorporate a requirement for Congressional approval of debt issuance. Congressional approval makes defaulting on debt far less likely than it would be if the executive branch could issue debt on its own.”