It isn't often that one witnesses a U.S. president eschewing presidential power in the face of a crisis. But this president continues to do so. Poetically, a senior administration official has rejected the several possible presidential power plays being floated if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling as "unicorn theories." In "Experts See Potential Ways Out for Obama in Debt Ceiling Maze," the New York Times' Adam Liptak rounds up the top suggestions. In sum:
- Invoke inherent emergency powers authority.
- Invoke section 4 of the 14th Amendment: “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.”
- Of the two "irreconcilable instructions" from Congress -- a) to spend and b) not to raise taxes or issue debt -- choose to issue debt.
Liptak doesn't mention the "$1 trillion platinum coin" option advanced by his fellow columnist Paul Krugman, and rejected by a former treasury official, and, offhandedly, yesterday, by the president. Josh Marshall at TPM explains why he believes "there's no escape hatch." Jack Balkin appears to agree.