Critics of the debt limit cite the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states: "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." (Emphasis ours)
Of course, the Fourteenth Amendment is open to wide, and varying, interpretation and debate. The most basic question here is, does a limit on debt "question" the "validity" of the debt?
I wonder if this means that we can default at all? It seems to be a violation of Constitution if we "question the validity" of the public debt by defaulting on it. Would we have to find money somewhere no matter what (I guess lease off some monuments or something) to pay off the debt?
I guess Obama would have a shaky leg to stand on if he just tasked the Treasury Department with paying off our debts no matter what the ceiling is and issuing bonds if they have to. I mean after world markets tank if Congress doesn't get a debt ceiling move he would look like a White Knight unilaterally raising the the debt ceiling. Actually the thing he would worry about is the "validity of public debt" to foreign holders. It is a sticky constitutional issue that might come up in August at the earliest.