Fouling the 14th Amendment
Recently, the financial sector of this country was set abuzz by the news that we might hit our debt ceiling and be unable to pay our bills. Joe Biden replied that he would consider using the powers found in the Fourteenth Amendment to resolve the situation. What is in the Fourteenth Amendment that would help in this situation? The Amendment is divided into five sections.
Section one deals with anyone born into this country is a citizen. Section two deals with how many Representatives are seated by state. Section three deals with a prohibition to serve as a Senator or Representative if you served in any rebellion or insurrection against the United States. Section five says that the Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
This leaves Section Four: “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. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”
A casual reading of Section Four would indicate that it belongs with the rest of the sections and it has to do with tidying up any misunderstandings or unlawful treatment of anyone after the War Between the States concluded. Considering that the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution on July 9, 1868, and the National Debt in that year was $2.6 billion in War Bonds, the original intent of the amendment was to pay off those bonds and the defeated Southern Confederacy would receive nothing in War Reparations for damages it received during the War.
So why does the Biden Administration believe that the Fourteenth Amendment is a solution for their budget woes? The administration has been searching for possible ways to keep borrowing if Congress can't come to an agreement. But the main problem now, as Joe Biden sees it, is the short time frame from now until the U.S. could default on its debts. It is almost certain to get tangled up in the courts, which would likely push the country beyond June 1, which is when the Treasury Department says the U.S. could be unable to pay its bills.
Despite the issues, a default could cause the economy of the modern United States, the reality is that the Fourteenth Amendment is a product of the 1860s and cannot be used in 2023 to pull a free-spending President and Congress out of the financial hole they dug for themselves.
As Mark Levin stated last week on the Fourteenth Amendment: “The purpose was to prevent future Congresses, if controlled by pro-Confederate Democrats, from repudiating pension obligations and other debts incurred to win the Civil War. It does not authorize the President to borrow more money in violation of Article one, Section eight, clause two, which is: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”
As for me, I will continue to hope that we elect, in the future, politicians who will start to treat the federal budget as their more responsible constituents treat their own household finances and spend within their means!