This will undoubtedly be but the first of many such attempts by the Obama administration and Senate Democrats to avoid spending cuts. So let us first drop acid and get in the Wayback Machine. Fun times.
Second, rather than in engage in the any-tool-at-hand argument style that the Left is so fond of whenever the Constitution is mentioned, I shall point out why, upon reading the entire Constitution, this argument is obviously wrong. Congress – not the president – has the powers to borrow and tax. If Congress decides not to borrow money, the president has no power to do so in its stead. The president can no more borrow money if the Congress refuses to do so than the Congress can appoint Supreme Court justices if the president refuses to do so.
A second reason why this argument is wrong is that there is plenty of tax money to service our debt without threat of default. There is not, however, plenty of tax money to service our debt and engage in recklessly huge spending. If Congress does not allow further borrowing, the president, as the executive, will be obliged to prioritize Constitutionally-mandated spending (i.e. servicing the debt) over statutorily-mandated spending (e.g. Medicare). It’s really quite simple how that works out. Saying that the 14th Amendment would allow the president to borrow money not authorized by the Congress is just another example of trying to get around the plain meaning of laws through bad lawyering.
These points, I think, are pretty persuasive in showing that the 14th Amendment argument is meritless. But let’s say you disagree with them; you think that Section 4 of the 14th Amendment overrides the seperation of powers plainly evident in Articles I and II; you think that Section 4 of the 14th Amendment allows the president to borrow for discretionary spending rather than simply forcing him to prioritize the spending of money he actually has. Okey dokey. Well let’s continue reading all the way to the end of the 14th Amendment to see if it offers us any clue as to which branch of government has the power to enforce its requirements:
5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
The Constitution: You’ll find the darnedest things if you read it.™
N.B. Here’s a neat trick. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment only guarantees “[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law.” Let’s say the president borrows money without Congressional approval. Because that debt would not be authorized by law (either statutory or constitutional), its validity would not be guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
Update (9:25 pm): I just realized that the genius floating this idea is Chris Coons, who beat Christine O’Donnell in last year’s election. The nation was collectively beat about the head region for months by Respectable People telling us how stupid and unprepared O’Donnell was. Yet here’s the guy that all the Respectable People endorsed, himself a lawyer, endorsing a legal theory that is at least ignorant and almost certainly idiotic. Point: Christine O’Donnell never said anything half as stupid as this legal theory from Chris Coons. Congrats Delaware, you’ve found a worthy successor to Joe Biden.