"Debt Ceiling Games" Could Be Ended By Court Reading Of Constitution Say Ex-White House Spokesman Robert Weiner And Policy Analyst Richard Mann In "The Hill"

Jan 24, 2013, 18:58 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Democratic Strategist Robert Weiner, a former White House spokesman and senior spokesman on Capitol Hill, and senior policy analyst Richard Mann have said in The Hill that the "debt ceiling games," now regularly threatening the U.S. economy and used as a wedge to attempt to force cuts to critical programs including Social Security and Medicare, are illegal under the Constitution.  Weiner and Mann, citing the wording of the Constitution in the Fourteenth and Twenty-seventh Amendments, argue that House Republicans do not have any leverage under the law. Also, they say that the House debt deal that ties congressional paychecks to passing a budget obviously flies in the face of the 27th Amendment and is therefore also unconstitutional.

Weiner and Mann put it bluntly, "The courts, including the Supreme Court, would likely confirm the President's Constitutional obligation to pay U.S. debts and would declare unconstitutional the link to issuing congressional paychecks. The congressional leadership insisted on reading the full Constitution aloud at the beginning of the session. We do not believe they skipped the relevant sections."

"A court ruling affirming Presidential power under Amendment XIV of the Constitution would remove congressional leverage for another 'fiscal cliff' and stop the now-regular Debt Ceiling Games," said Weiner and Mann. "It would give teeth to President Obama's statement that paying the country's debt is 'not a bargaining chip' despite congressional demands that debt be used as leverage to make cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Court approval would stop the congressional fiscal cliff insanity.  The White House should institute or support the Constitutional challenge." Weiner and Mann liken the U.S. obligation to pay bills to contract law.

Weiner and Mann say that as "Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and the second longest serving Member of Congress, argued, 'It's my belief that the courts would support the President if he cited the 14th Amendment and instructed our executive agencies to pay the nation's debts.'"  "Conyers also told us that the new salary tie 'is not constitutional' and 'shows how superficial' the latest legislation is." Weiner and Mann also cite President Bill Clinton, who said he would use the 14th Amendment "without hesitation;" and Nancy Pelosi, who said she would "use the 14th Amendment in a second."

According to Weiner and Mann, "Top constitutional authorities Michael Dorf, former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and law professor at Cornell University, and Neil Buchanan, law professor at George Washington University" concur. They cite Dorf and Buchanan's article in the Columbia Law Review, which says, "Given the balance of constitutional, practical, and prudential considerations," the most constitutional choice "would be for the president to continue to issue debt, in the amounts authorized by the duly enacted budget of the United States."

Weiner and Mann conclude, "If President Obama wants his 2nd term agenda not to be handcuffed by ongoing Debt Ceiling Games, he could seek Court support against the constant threats to throw our economy under the bus."

The article in The Hill is entitled, "DEBT CEILING GAMES—COURT COULD END LEVERAGE," by Robert Weiner and Richard Mann.

Contact: Bob Weiner/Richard Mann 301-283-0821, cell 202-306-1200

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates