The White House signaled Thursday that President Barack Obama would not use the Constitution to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling in the event of a standoff with Republicans. But there are plenty of key Democrats who think that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
During his Thursday briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed the idea that Obama has the constitutional authority to increase the debt limit himself if Congress doesn’t do it by early February, when the government is expected to run out of money. The debt ceiling is currently capped at $16.4 trillion.
“This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period,” Carney said.
Carney said the White House has been consistent in opposing that approach, though he noted “there was a period where this was under discussion” during the 2011 debt ceiling fight. Ultimately, though, the White House dismissed the idea, questioning the legality of that option, he said.
The idea came up last year when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) refused to pass a bill to increase the debt limit without tying it to matching spending cuts — a first — and the country nearly defaulted on its debt as squabbling continued until the very last minute. The standoff resulted in America’s first credit downgrade and is projected to cost taxpayers $18.9 billion over ten years.