Connect with us


The debt limit default doomsday clock and 14th amendment



The world already has one Doomsday Clock. In 1947, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists established the Doomsday Clock on nuclear holocaust – how close we were to the end of days because of the existence and threat of using nuclear weapons.

In 2007, the scientists included a climate change equation in their tripwire

With nuclear weapons proliferating, the threat of a use of tactical nukes by Russia overhanging the no-end-in-sight war in Ukraine, and global warming not under control, the Doomsday Clock is now at 90 seconds before the witching hour of midnight, “The closest,” the atomic scientists say, “to global catastrophe it has ever been.”

There is now another Doomsday Clock in existence.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen declared that the United States would run out of money to pay its bills on June 1, triggering a first-ever default by the biggest economic power in the world. In Senate hearings last week, one of the most respected economists, Mark Zandi, declared that “June 8 is the X-date when Treasury can’t pay all the bills on time.”  

The Debt Limit Default Doomsday Clock lock is now set at 30 days from today.

Every expert authority agrees that a default will cause catastrophic effects in the United States and worldwide.

In the US, millions of jobs lost, a recession and even higher interest rates.  Across the globe, higher borrowing costs and depressed markets for goods and exports.  We could relive the global Covid crash.

Biden's scoop
U.S. President Joe Biden takes questions as he announces his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023, during remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Biden has called the four principal congressional leaders – House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Democratic leader Hakim Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell – to meet on Tuesday with the Doomsday Clock ticking.

As discussed last week, Biden wants a clean extension of the debt limit, and not have it held hostage to trillions of dollars in budget cuts that House Republicans are seeking.  The House Republicans have refused a debt limit extension without the massive savaging of Biden’s spending and tax plans – effectively seeking repeal of most of what Biden enacted into law in his first two years in office.

This looks like a head-on collision that will not be averted.

When Trump was president, the Republicans voted 3 times to increase the debt limit to accommodate over $7 trillion in Trump debt increases because of his spending and tax cuts.

But today, there no Republican votes like that for Biden.

Three things to watch for in this week’s meeting:

  • Can they agree on a short-term extension of the debt limit?

With Congress in session for only 8 more days during the next month, and with Biden due in Australia on May 24 for the Quad meeting, can they at least agree on a simple short-term debt limit extension to allow the parties to work together to find a solution?  A breather in the range of 60 days.  That would show goodwill and an intent to work this out.

  • Second, watch Mitch McConnell.  

Often when Congress and the White House are stuck on budget issues, the answer lies in procedural fixes – not radical legislation. In the last great debt limit crisis in 2011, McConnell crafted a complicated procedural mechanism to raise the debt limit.  It allowed President Obama to raise the debt limit, then allowed Congress to vote to disapprove of Obama’s raising the debt limit, and then Obama could exercise his constitutional authority to veto any such congressional disapproval of the debt limit increase.  The Republicans got their vote against raising the debt limit and Obama could ensure the maintenance of the full faith and credit of the United States.

But that was then. Right now, McConnell is in lock step with McCarthy, and is saying that the Senate Republicans are behind the Speaker. A deal will be closer if we see McConnell visibly working to bring McCarthy and Biden together.  

  • Third, watch for growing signs that Biden will move to end this crisis by invoking the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.  

A growing number of experts believe the President has the authority, under the 14th amendment, to act unilaterally and ensure there is no default.  The 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, states:

“[T]he 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.”

Proponents of using this authority say that Biden can do this on his own and permanently retire the debt limit.

This was seriously considered in the 2011 crisis. My book with Bryan Marshall, The Committee, recounts a discussion in the House Democratic Caucus on this issue:  

“[House Majority Leader Rep. Steny] Hoyer said that come Tuesday night the President may feel he has to invoke constitutional authority on the debt ceiling … He has not told us this but I have to believe it’s an option on the table … But a lot of lenders may believe that there is still a large cloud over such an order that it may not help much with respect to the markets.
[House Majority Whip Rep. James] Clyburn then said he wanted to say something about the 14th Amendment.  He said that he believes the President will sign a 30 day extension if that is what he is presented with.  But what the President should do (and he said he has told the White House this) if he gets a short term extension is to veto it and, with the very same pen, sign an Executive Order.” 

Biden’s going to the 14th Amendment would mean that he does not believe he can work with McCarthy, who himself is held hostage by the scorched-earth Trump Republicans in his caucus, and that no deal is possible. 

The downside risk of invoking the 14th Amendment is that it has never been used before.  There are no previous controlling precedents on this issue.

Such an action by the President would immediately be challenged and would be on a fast track to the Supreme Court – a court, dominated by conservatives, that has been against him on abortion, guns, voting rights, and many other issues.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 19: Visitors pay respects to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as he lies in repose in the Great Hall at the U.S. Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

In addition, some House Republicans would immediately move to impeach Biden for abuse of power for invoking the 14th Amendment.

America could be in a new crisis with both the Legislative and Judicial branches of the government moving against the Executive. Indeed, Secretary Yellen said on Sunday:

“We should not get to the point where we need to consider whether the president can go on issuing debt. This would be a constitutional crisis.”

Biden was directly asked about using the 14th Amendment in an interview on MSNBC on Friday night. 

Biden said: “I have not gotten there yet.”

Biden did not say no. 

What his words do say is that Biden is working to get there, and that he could get there if the choice is between a doomsday calamity of untold consequence for all Americans, and that with every other door slammed shut in his face by the Republicans in Congress, he is exercising his constitutional authority under the 14th amendment to avert an unprecedented catastrophe of their making. 

That would be one hell of a presidential address to the nation and the world from the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

We will see all these cards played in the days ahead.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

Continue Reading


Streaming wars: can Apple compete with Spotify?



Spotify’s 2023 Wrapped has dropped prompting listeners to review their top artists, genres, and songs of the year.

Many are taking to social media platforms to share their listening trends with family, friends, coworkers, and even other fans on the internet.

While Apple Music, a rival platform, has its own year-end campaign—it hasn’t quite ignited the same online response.

Seth Schachner, the Managing Director at StratAmericas and a former Sony Music Executive joins Veronica Dudo to discuss. #Spotify #music #Apple #AppleMusic #SpotifyWrapped #streaming #featured #IN AMERICA TODAY

Continue Reading


What Australia can learn from NZ’s supermarket inquiry



Coles and Woolworths, two of Australia’s largest supermarket chains, are about to face a Senate inquiry that aims to scrutinise their market dominance and business practices.

The inquiry’s parallels with a past New Zealand investigation highlight the growing concern over the duopoly’s impact on consumers and smaller businesses.

The Senate inquiry, set to begin next month, comes as a response to mounting public pressure and allegations of anti-competitive behavior in the grocery sector.

New Zealand example

Similar concerns led New Zealand to conduct its own inquiry into the supermarket industry back in 2019, resulting in recommendations for increased regulation and transparency.

The central question here is whether Coles and Woolworths wield too much power in the Australian market, potentially stifling competition and limiting choices for consumers.

With the New Zealand example as a cautionary tale, many are wondering if this inquiry will result in meaningful changes to the Australian grocery landscape.

Continue Reading


Elon Musk: Nikki Haley’s ‘campaign is dead’



Elon Musk has thrown a verbal jab at former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, declaring her political campaign as “dead” on X.

The unexpected comment from the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has ignited a new wave of discussion within the political sphere, leaving many wondering about the implications for Haley’s political future.

In a tweet that garnered significant attention, Musk criticized Haley’s recent policy stance, writing, “Nikki Haley’s campaign is dead on arrival if she continues to ignore the urgency of climate change.

We need leaders who prioritize the planet’s future.” The tech mogul’s remarks come as Haley, a prominent Republican figure, has been exploring the possibility of running for president in the upcoming election cycle.

Musk’s statement has reignited the debate over climate change within the Republican Party, with many conservatives emphasizing economic interests over environmental concerns.

This raises questions about whether Musk’s endorsement or critique could influence the GOP’s stance on climate issues and potentially impact the 2024 presidential race.

Continue Reading
Live Watch Ticker News Live

Trending Now

Copyright © 2023 The Ticker Company