Senator McConnell gloats over the new template – debt ceiling hostage crises forever, every time there’s a GOP majority in the House or 40 senators for a filibuster, until every Republican dream is fulfilled. (via Ezra Klein):
This is just the first step. This, we anticipate, will take us into 2013. Whoever the new president is, is probably going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again. Then we will go through the process again and see what we can continue to achieve in connection with these debt ceiling requests of presidents to get our financial house in order.
So one plank of the 2012 Democratic platform writes itself: abolish the separate debt ceiling as an undemocratic and financially irrational monstrosity. Not raise it, abolish it. (By which I mean that as in normal countries, appropriations bills should automatically include authorisation for the borrowing they imply under the applicable revenue bill.)
But how to do this? I see two options:
(a) Accept the constutionality of the current law and propose to abolish it by normal legislation.
The problem with this is that it needs not just the White House and a majority in the House, both realistic objectives, but 60 votes in the Senate, which is probably out of reach.
(b) Declare the debt ceiling law unconstitutional, not as a last-ditch technical fix but as a considered policy position of the party and its candidates (individual pledges signed in blood, please).
For instance, presidential candidate Obama could state his intention to attach a signing statement to every future appropriations bill not including such an explicit borrowing authorisation that it will be interpreted by the Executive as implicitly authorising any borrowing required for its execution. The justification will be the doctrine of the priority of more recent law, the Presidential oath, and the 14th Amendment.
Any better suggestions?
[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]