Senate Democrats to Obama: Ignore the debt ceiling!

January 11, 2013

Mr. President, ignore that debt ceiling! (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a letter co-signed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, majority whip Dick Durbin, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus Chuck Schumer, and budget committee chairwoman Patty Murray, the four Democrats, presumably on behalf of their caucus, ask President Obama to ignore the debt ceiling when the time comes:

It is hard to imagine that the Speaker and Leader McConnell would really follow through on their threat to let the nation default on its debts. They are responsible leaders who know better. Sadly, some of their Republican colleagues do not. There, we believe that you must make clear that you will never allow our nation's economy and reputation to be held hostage. In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt-limit extension only as part of unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global crisis -- without congressional approval, if necessary.

The Senate Democrats don't specify a remedy here, so they could be talking about the platinum coin, the 14th Amendment, government scrip, or some other approach. But the bigger issue here is that final clause. They're saying, for the record, that the majority party of the U.S. Senate will not consider it an executive power grab if the president takes unusual action to avoid default.

You can read the full letter here:

Letter to POTUS by Ezra Klein

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Brad Plumer | January 11, 2013