Senior Biden officials have told progressive activists and lawmakers in recent days that they do not see the 14th Amendment — which says the “validity of the public debt” cannot be questioned — as a viable means of circumventing debt ceiling negotiations. They have argued that doing so would be risky and destabilizing, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: May 20, 2023 Filed under: abortion rights, cat art, caturday, Democratic Politics, Donald Trump, Republican politics, SCOTUS | Tags: 14th amendment, abortion, debt limit, default, Gov. Roy Cooper, Joe Biden, media, North Carolina, recession, Ron DeSantis, Russia, shadow docket, Steve Vladeck, Supreme Court 22 Comments
It is just me, or is the political news getting so complex and frightening as to be overwhelming? I’ve been looking around the internet for stories to post today, and it seems to me there is way too much going wrong. Is it my own anxiety and depression interfering with my judgment? Or is the country really on the brink of disaster? I hope it’s just me.
Let’s see, there is the most immediate crisis: the debt ceiling impasse. Then there’s frightening long-term threat of Donald Trump and his followers. There’s the building threat of Ron DeSantis. And there are more frightening issues: the Supreme Court and the effects of their recent decisions on women–abortion bans in many states, and the possibility of limits on birth control. There’s also Russia’s war on Ukraine–which I’ve pretty much given up on following–and the danger to our country posed by Republicans who support Russia in that conflict. And of course, for the longer-term, there are the threats to the environment and to humans from climate change. Have our lives always been this complicated?
I’m going to start by recommending a very long essay by Michael Tomasky at The New Republic: Donald Trump Against America. The subhead is, “He loves an America of his twisted imagination. He hates—and fears—the America that actually exists. And if he gets back to the White House … look out.” I haven’t actually finished reading this article–it’s practically book-length, but I’ve read quite a bit and plan to go back and finish it. It’s a look at the modern history of U.S. politics and an analysis of the current negativity of the Republican party as opposed to what Americans actually believe and want today. Republicans are completely out of step with modern American attitudes, and yet they have outsize power to affect our reality because of their control of the Supreme Court, Congress, and state governments.
Now for the most immediate issue–the debt ceiling fight.
Talking Points Memo: Growing List Of Dems Urge Biden To Cite 14th Amendment To Sidestep McCarthy’s Debt-Ceiling Hostage Crisis.
A growing group of Senate Democrats is urging President Joe Biden to seriously consider invoking the 14th Amendment to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional, a strategy that — if upheld by the courts — could avert a looming default without any concessions to House Republicans, who have used their slim majority to take the debt ceiling hostage.
Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have been circulating a letter amongst their colleagues this week to collect support for Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment and lift the debt ceiling without any help from House Republicans.
“We write to urgently request that you prepare to exercise your authority under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which clearly states: ‘the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned,’” the draft letter reads. “Using this authority would allow the United States to continue to pay its bills on-time, without delay, preventing a global economic catastrophe.”
As the so-called “x-date” — when House Republicans may push the country to default on its debts — draws closer, legal scholars have pointed out that the 14th Amendment seemingly declares the debt ceiling unconstitutional. It’s an argument that also gained traction during the Obama-era debt-ceiling standoffs, though that Democratic administration ultimately chose not to embrace it.
Now, some Democrats are saying the Biden White House should give it a hard look, arguing that the Civil War-era amendment requires the administration to continue to pay the U.S.’s bills regardless of the early 20th century debt ceiling statute, and Republicans’ 21st century attempts to take it hostage. A list of demands passed by the Republican-controlled House last month includes spending cuts to some of Democrats’ most prized priorities.
At Politico, Adam Cancryn claims that’s not likely: Biden’s 14th Amendment message to progressives: It ain’t gonna happen.
Progressive lawmakers renewed their call for President Joe Biden to bypass Congress to avert a default after the abrupt cancellation of debt ceiling talks on Friday.
But the White House remains resistant. It issued a subdued statement indicating it sees no reason to pull the plug on talks. And privately, its message has been even blunter.
The White House has studied the issue for months, with some aides concluding that Biden would likely have the authority to declare the debt limit unconstitutional as a last-ditch way to sidestep default. But Biden advisers have told progressives that they see it as a poor option overall, fearing such a move would trigger a pitched legal battle, undermine global faith in U.S. creditworthiness and damage the economy. Officials have warned that even the appearance of more seriously considering the 14th Amendment could blow up talks that are already quite delicate.
“They have not ruled it out,” said one adviser to the White House, granted anonymity to speak candidly about discussions. “But it is not currently part of the plan.”
Well, at least they haven’t completely ruled it out.
Sara Chaney Cambon at The Wall Street Journal: Debt-Ceiling Standoff Could Start a Recession, But Default Would Be Worse.
Prolonged debt-ceiling squabbling could push the U.S. economy into recession, while a government default on its obligations might touch off a severe financial crisis.
U.S. lawmakers are negotiating over raising the federal government’s borrowing limit and may have just days to act before the standoff reverberates through the economy.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the government could become unable to pay bills on time by June 1. In that case, the Treasury Department could halt payments, such as to federal employees or veterans.
In a worst-case scenario, a failure to pay holders of U.S. government debt, a linchpin of the global financial system, could trigger severe recession and send stock prices plummeting and borrowing costs soaring.
Many economists don’t expect a default for the first time in U.S. history. But they outline three potential ways the standoff could affect the economy and financial system, ranging from not great to extremely scary.
Camon discusses the likely results of three scenarios:
1) Last minute deal
The economy is already slowing due to rising interest rates, with many forecasters expecting a recession this year. While lawmakers haggle, uncertainty could cause consumers, investors and businesses to retrench, increasing the chances of a recession, said Joel Prakken, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Workers aren’t likely to lose their jobs, but the unpredictability of the economic outlook could cause them to put off purchases.
Stock prices could start to decline as June 1 nears….“Even if we get an agreement before we run out of resources there still could be a legacy effect of the uncertainty that restrains economic growth,” Prakken said.
2) Deal after deadline
If negotiations extend beyond Thursday June 1, economists expect a more severe reaction from financial markets, as the possibility for default looks more real.
“The shock would tend to accelerate quite rapidly” on June 1, said Gregory Daco, chief economist at Ernst & Young.
If consumers’ retirement and investment accounts suddenly shrink, they could sharply curtail their spending, the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Businesses could pause hiring and investment plans.
3) No deal
If no deal is reached and the government can’t pay all its bills for days or weeks, repercussions would be enormous.
“There would be chaos in the global financial system because Treasurys are so important,” said Wendy Edelberg, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “What happens when that thing that everybody is benchmarking themselves to proves to be one of the riskiest things out there?”
Ernst & Young’s Daco said a default would trigger a recession more severe than the 2007-09 downturn.
Read more details at the WSJ link. If you can’t get in with my link, try using the one at Memeorandum.
A couple more stories on the debt limit impasse:
Jason Linkins at The New Republic: The Beltway Media Is Spreading Debt Limit Misinformation. The political press bears a share of the blame for the fact we are once again on the precipice of default.
Carl Hulse at The Washington Post: Finger-Pointing Won’t Save Anyone if Default Leads to Economic Collapse.
In other news, if Biden manages to win the debt ceiling war, will Republican missteps on the abortion issue help him win in 2024?
CNN: ‘Reap the whirlwind’: Biden and North Carolina Democrats see 2024 edge in GOP abortion ban.
North Carolina Republicans jumped out on a limb this week when they passed a controversial new abortion ban. Democrats are now rushing to saw it off.
The state GOP legislative supermajority’s decision to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the measure sharpened the stakes for next year’s elections – and gave Democrats new impetus to invest up and down the North Carolina ballot.
At the top of the ticket, President Joe Biden’s campaign is already drawing up plans to focus on the ban, which outlaws most abortions after 12 weeks, in its bid to win a state last captured by a Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. Former President Donald Trump’s victory there in 2020 was his narrowest of the election, and North Carolina is critical to any Republican’s path to the White House.
The shock waves from the brief but fierce abortion fight – 12 days that saw the bill pass, get vetoed by Cooper, then resurrected by Republican lawmakers – are also expected to reach into next year’s races for governor, state attorney general and both legislative chambers. With Cooper term-limited, the campaign to succeed him is expected to be the most competitive governor’s race of 2024, potentially pitting far-right GOP Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson against Democratic Attorney General and Cooper protégé Josh Stein.
The race to succeed Cooper, who has for years beat back the Republican agenda in North Carolina with his veto pen, will be especially heated if Robinson wins the Republican nomination. Democrats are already highlighting his absence from the legislature during the abortion votes – arguing that he is trying to distance himself from the ban. The Republican had tried to avoid publicly commenting on the issue in recent weeks – a reversal from his usual posture – though he told a conservative radio host the day after Republicans overrode Cooper’s veto that North Carolina continued to “move the ball” on abortion.
Read more at CNN.
People have been asking where Ron DeSantis got the money to pay for his round the world and cross country political tour, and The New York Times’ Alexandra Berzon and Rebecca Davis O’Brient got the goods: Air DeSantis: The Private Jets and Secret Donors Flying Him Around.
For Ron DeSantis, Sunday, Feb. 19, was the start of another busy week of not officially running for president.
That night, he left Tallahassee on a Florida hotelier’s private jet, heading to Newark before a meet-and-greet with police officers on Staten Island on Monday morning. Next, he boarded a twin-jet Bombardier to get to a speech in the Philadelphia suburbs, before flying to a Knights of Columbus hall outside Chicago, and then home to his day job as governor of Florida.
The tour and others like it were made possible by the convenience of private air travel — and by the largess of wealthy and in some cases secret donors footing the bill.
Ahead of an expected White House bid, Mr. DeSantis has relied heavily on his rich allies to ferry him around the country to test his message and raise his profile. Many of these donors are familiar boosters from Florida, some with business interests before the state, according to a New York Times review of Mr. DeSantis’s travel. Others have been shielded from the public by a new nonprofit, The Times found, in an arrangement that drew criticism from ethics experts.
Mr. DeSantis, who is expected to formally announce his candidacy next week, is hardly the first politician to take advantage of the speed and comfort of a Gulfstream jet. Candidates and officeholders in both parties have long accepted the benefits of a donor’s plane as worth the political risk of appearing indebted to special interests or out of touch with voters.
But ethics experts said the travel — and specifically the role of the nonprofit — shows how Mr. DeSantis’s prolonged candidate-in-limbo status has allowed him to work around rules intended to keep donors from wielding secret influence. As a declared federal candidate, he would face far stricter requirements for accepting and reporting such donations.
“Voters deserve this information because they have a right to know who is trying to influence their elected officials and whether their leaders are prioritizing public good over the interests of their big-money benefactors,” said Trevor Potter, the president of Campaign Legal Center and a Republican who led the Federal Election Commission. “Governor DeSantis, whether he intends to run for president or not, should be clearly and fully disclosing who is providing support to his political efforts.”
Read the rest at the NYT.
One more important story on one of our huge problems–the Supreme Court.
Ian Ward at Politico Magazine: The Supreme Court Is Hiding Important Decisions From You.
As the Supreme Court begins to release its written opinions from its most recent term, much of the public’s attention is focused on high-profile cases on affirmative action, election law and environmental regulation. But according to Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas Law School, this narrow focus on the most headline-grabbing decisions overlooks a more troubling change in the High Court’s behavior: The justices are conducting more and more of the court’s most important business out of the public eye, through a procedural mechanism known as “the shadow docket.”
Quantitatively speaking, cases arising from the shadow docket — which include everything apart from the court’s annual average of 60 to 70 signed decisions — have long made up a majority of the justices’ work. But as Vladeck documents in his new book, The Shadow Docket, published this week, the court’s use of the shadow docket changed dramatically during the Trump years, when the court’s conservative majority used a flurry of emergency orders — unsigned, unexplained and frequently released in the middle of the night — to greenlight some of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies.
“What’s remarkable is that the court repeatedly acquiesced and acquiesced [to the Trump administration], and almost always without any explanation,” Vladeck said when I spoke with him. “And they did it in ways that marked a pretty sharp break from how the court would have handled those applications in the past.”
It wasn’t just the frequency of the court’s shadow docket decisions that changed during the Trump years; it was also the scope of those decisions. Whereas the justices have traditionally used emergency orders as temporary measures to pause a case until they can rule on its merits, the current court has increasingly used emergency orders to alter the basic contours of election law, immigration policy, religious liberty protections and abortion rights — all without an extended explanation or legal justification. To illustrate this shift, Vladeck points to the court’s emergency order in September 2021 that allowed Texas’s six-week abortion ban to take effect — a move that effectively undermined Roe v. Wade nine months before the court officially overturned it in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
“It really highlights a problem that’s endemic to how we talk about the court, which is that we fixate on the formality of the court’s decision and explanations and downplay the practical effect of its rulings, whether or not they come with those explanations,” Vladeck explained.
Read the rest at Politico.
That’s it for me today. What stories are you following?
Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!
One theory is that it was after trauma to one orca. Another is that they could be playing. And it could! Just because from our perspective it wrecks the boat doesn’t mean it’s not fun from the orca’s point of view. ¯\_(ツ)_⁄¯
I can see how it could be fun.
It seems to me much simpler than an existential evil made flesh. (Although it seems to be that too!)
Make the Dem President fail.
Take money away from Dem voters.
Presto-magico! Republicans win elections.
That’s the whole agenda. The global financial disaster only matters if a) they personally lose money by it, and/or b) they personally lose elections.
To me that suggest a different approach to bargaining with them than pointing out the catastrophe they’re preparing for everybody else. First take out a million ads about it being All Their Fault!
“All in with Chris” had me in tears all during his show last night. There was an interview with that family who had to deal with carrying a baby to term only to watch him smother to death in his 90 minutes. Then, the warnings about climate change are awful. We’ve passed another milestone. However, the world is setting clean energy standards, and we’re set to help if the damned Republicans don’t try to set us back again.
Global warming set to break critical 1.5C limit for the first time.
This is MAY, and there are huge numbers of forest fires in Canada of all places. My granddaughters and their peers cannot play outside now because of the air quality. Damage to all kinds of things is occurring.
As to whether the world was always this complicated… I remember rather clearly the fear of nuclear war. It wasn’t complicated, but it was still massive.
Right now? I don’t think it’s just you. The world is on the wrong track. We’re heading straight for a reduction of world population down to 3-4 billion (aka death…) and enough economic hardship that experts I respect estimate a regression to 1850s-type technology. Outhouses. Bicycles (it’s not all bad). Supply chains that don’t go far so lots of shortages. Survivable, but a lot less enjoyable than now unless people use it as push toward a more just society.
We can all see it. Or at least feel it. But the level of denial has us all saying, “Is it just me?”
I remember fear of nuclear war too, but that seemed a more distant possibility than what we are facing now–the real possibility of American fascism. We beat Trump in 2020, but he still refuses to go away; and if he gets into the WH again, there will be nothing holding him back.
I don’t know about distant. I’ll never forget one radio newscast I misheard just as I walked into a room about “missiles have been launched.” Turned out he was talking about a test.
Nuclear war was always a chance thing. _Maybe_ they wouldn’t do it. The awfulness of our current mess is the inevitability, the refusal to take action on the scale required. The helpless feeling of being on a runaway train that’s plunged off the bridge but hasn’t hit bottom yet.
And there’s nothing we can personally do to stop it.
Every time I see a headline like “Biden and North Carolina Democrats see 2024 edge in GOP abortion ban” I want to scream. I’m so fucking glad they see a 2024 “edge” in me and every other woman and girl in North Carolina losing our right to control our own bodies.
Fucking sick of men.
We’re not seen as human. Our right to bodily autonomy is considered a pawn in the political game.
Yes. Which is what got us here. The Dems, desperate for “turnout,” dangling this issue and not solving it for decades, including during those brief shining moments when they had veto-proof majorities (eg 1st 2 years Clinton, 1st two years Obama).
And another brief interval of delight in between stories of how powerful men are wrecking the world.
Wow! That’s amazing and so sweet.
Awww, thank you for this.
BB, I feel the same way you do.
I thought I posted this comment hours ago.
Like seriously, hours ago.
Gotta watch that subtle cat body language to see when the cat’s had about enough! Oddly enough, the two kitties I have now never get tired of having their bellies rubbed, as long as it’s done gently.