How Obama Could Raise the Debt Ceiling, All By Himself

Seven is considered the luckiest number in astrology. It also happens to be the amount of times the debt ceiling has been raised under the Obama Administration. And if the House Republican response is any indication, lucky stars point at another opportunity for President Obama to raise it once again.

With an ever approaching debt deadline to meet, the question isn’t whether or not Republicans will agree to raising the debt ceiling, it’s whether Obama will have to make the move himself, through executive order.

As bold and daring as that may sound, it’s fruitless. Sure, the Fourteenth Amendment is an option, but this then becomes a signal that Congress itself believes it will not be able to provide any significant spending cuts, déjà vu for last February’s increase, which saw nothing saved.

The Fourteenth Amendment was not created with the intention that Obama would simply bypass Congressional input in order to push forward with his agenda to raise the debt ceiling. Recent arguments have cited that Obama’s decision to use the Fourteenth Amendment could result in an illegality should Congress not authorize the raising of the debt ceiling after the fact. The course that should be taken is finding as many opportunities to make budget cuts as possible. Failure to do so could include jeopardizing the economy with a combination of both short-term and long-term effects.

Instead of discussion over who will invoke their right to raise the debt ceiling, the discussion that needs to be facilitated should cover budget trimming and entitlement reform. An Obama attempt to use the Fourteenth Amendment would spur a Supreme Court ruling, further delaying Congress from focusing on how to instill proactive measures that focus on a sustainable budget. Republicans would likely begin that discussion with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but a more realistic approach would point towards targeting Medicare or Social Security, both of which, along with Medicaid, could consume close to half of federal spending in the near future.

The situation has become dire as Congress continuously judges its effectiveness through temporary improvements in the deficit. Obama’s history with budgets show imbalance, regardless of tax increases. Taxpayer money has been unable to offset costs due to an outpace by spending, rendering any solution that the president puts forward as ineffective. Deficits will continue to rise, and with it taxes.

Obama’s promise for a 2:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases has disappeared, and with it, any confidence that a government shutdown could have be averted. It’s time for true spending cuts, only then can permission be granted in confidence to raise the debt ceiling once more. An unwillingness to cooperate only goes to show that tactics to cut spending have been put behind the drama surrounding a showdown behind House Republicans, who are currently in a dream state, and Obama, whose leadership on this issue refutes any prior promises made to work with Congress on the issue of the debt ceiling.

Does the president have the right to raise the debt ceiling? That should be left up to the court. Should Obama invoke his right to raise the debt ceiling, even if it is legal? Absolutely not. As credit agencies stand by, pouncing for an opportunity to downgrade, our fiscal future looks bleak, but it doesn’t take an astrologer to know that.

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Arman Sidhu

Arman Sidhu is a political commentator based in Phoenix, Arizona, covering topics related to Indian foreign policy, domestic politics, and the Indian-American diaspora. He is a researcher at Arizona State University and a former Reagan Fellow at the Goldwater Institute

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