Push The Lemmings Off The Cliff

The so-called “fiscal cliff” came and went and a bogus deal was reached, as many of us knew it would be.  A tiny increase in taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year was passed while these rest of us “get to keep” a tax break.  Meanwhile, we continue to have the same problems in the country that we’ve had for years.  They remain wholly unaddressed.  Does anyone remember the last time that our “leaders” discussed education?  How about real attempts to address mental health issues such as support for the families and care for the patients?  When is the last time you heard anything positive coming out of NIH about AIDS research, or anything else for that matter?  Remember the space program that we, as a nation, allowed to die?  Remember the unemployment rate that is sitting at 7.8% nationally, according to the December report, but will likely go back up when the seasonal jobs go away?  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

US Constitution, Amendment 14, section 4

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.{emphasis added}

Let me translate and shorten that for you.  “Once congress has approved, and the President has signed, the budget, we pay it, period.”

Now, what does that mean?  What it means, in effect, is that the political kabuki theater of the debt ceiling is nothing more than a show put on to scare and confuse.  The constitution supersedes any and all laws in the country.  Whether you like that or not, it is the fact.  As a result, regardless, of what congress does, or doesn’t do, the Treasury department is required to pay the debt.  America, canNOT default on its debt.  What it is not required to continue doing is paying the new spending.  That is why the silly memes that go around “Why does the president always threaten to stop Social Security checks and paychecks to the military?” make so little sense.  As with so many internet memes, they are made and spread by people who either don’t understand, don’t care to understand, or are intentionally using people who fall into the first categories in order to confuse and abuse you.  While SS checks ought not stop because those are debts owed, checks to employees of the government would stop for just that very reason, they are new spending.

Oh, but it does get better.  You see, part of this the reason that you never heard about this until recently is that it was an act that was never put on for you before.  It isn’t that you weren’t paying attention, or that you’ve forgotten.  It just wasn’t done.  This, too, you can thank the far right wing for.  No, really.  Not even conspiracy theorists are needed to make these things up.  These are just simply the facts.  You see, until the Repugnicrats, under Newt Gringrich, suspended the standard practice of simultaneously passing a budget and making any necessary raises to the debt limit in one vote, this political hostage taking couldn’t take place.  They couldn’t play these games with our economy, our money and our lives.  So, the Repugnicrats create the game, then, while their guy is in office, they pass the raises as though it’s no big deal, matter of normal business.  Suddenly, their opposition takes office, and it’s the end of the world, the sky is falling, all hell is breaking loose, cats and dogs sleeping together…

The US has had debt from our very outset.  We incurred over $75 million in debt during the Revolution.  We had no debt ceiling until 1917.  The whole point of the debt ceiling was to give more flexibility during World War I.  It was meant to be a constraint, but more than that, it was meant to give a semi-open check.  Prior to that, congress authorized any necessary borrowing at the same time that they authorized the budget.  The debt ceiling was intended to allow for additional borrowing in case of need, up to a specified limit.  It’s like saying, you need to go grocery shopping, but you don’t know how much it’s going to be, so here, take $300.  Now, congress is using it in a truly irresponsible way to authorize spending that they know will exceed the debt ceiling, and then trying to use that as a negotiating tool.  What congress is doing now is akin to saying, spend $600 on groceries, spend $500 on new tires, spend $300 on new clothes, but don’t spend more then $1000.  Then, when the government runs out of money and comes back and says, “Please authorize us to borrow the rest”, then the Republicans are saying, “Well, we could, but first we need you to kiss our ass.”

Guess what, boys and girls.  Their debt ceiling is likely unconstitutional and certainly unnecessary.  There is a constitutional argument to be made that the act of approving the budget, approves the borrowing itself, via the 14th amendment.  As such, the debt ceiling law is unnecessary, and its application to prohibit previously authorized spending  would be unconstitutional.  Any conflict between a law and the constitution, as you will recall, means the law must be discarded.  The only way to resolve that, of course, is for the courts to decide.  The only way for that to happen is for the law to be challenged, and the only way for that to happen is for the center right to show some testicular fortitude and call them out on this.  Just as I had advocated for going over the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the New Year and though we are just about two months away, I am telling you now, you should be telling your friends, your family, call your Senators, your Representatives, and your President.  Tell them, “Just say, ‘Do it’.  Raise the debt ceiling or don’t.  It doesn’t matter, but pay the bills, and keep on chugging.  Ignore the idiot Repugnicrats.  Let’s get this issue behind us, and if necessary, we’ll settle it in the courts.”

Let us be proactive about this one.  Make no mistakes, the far right is already gearing up for this one.  How do you want to play it?  As victim?  Or, are you finally ready to take the little toads by their throat and say, “No!  Enough is enough!!  Get out of my house!”?  Which will it be?  You do, in fact, have the power.  Each and every one of you.

I love my country, and I am tired of the word “patriot” being used as cover by those who would destroy it and all that we have worked to build.  They have been too successful over the last 40 years.  It is well nigh past time we fight back.  It is long past the time we continue what our fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters started before us.  It is time the anger and strength of the left came back.  Not with violence, because that is really not the path of the liberal.  That is the path of the conservative fear mongers.  Those who are too afraid to stand on their own two feet.  It is time to stand up, look those who are chipping away at what is good in the eye and say, “No! Stand aside!”  It is time to repair that damage.  Heal what can be healed.  Build what new is needed, and move forward.


About Just Torch

Author of the SCIAMAGE column a space devoted to American political and social commentary and analysis. It is unabashedly liberal, but makes every effort to present clear, verifiable facts and sound reasoning. It also makes a commitment to clearly distinguish between facts and opinions. View all posts by Just Torch

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