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Geithner claims GOP has no right to question debt ceiling because Constitution prohibits it

Treasury Secretary Turbo Tax Tim Geithner, who is reportedly thinking about leaving the administration (and I say good riddance), is also, apparently, a constitutional scholar as well as a tax cheat.

While speaking with Mike Allen of POLITICO, Gethner held that the debt ceiling was likely unconstitutional:

"I think there are some people who are pretending not to understand it, who think there’s leverage for them in threatening a default," Geithner said. "I don’t understand it as a negotiating position. I mean really think about it, you’re going to say that– can I read you the 14th amendment?"

He then read it out loud:

"’The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for the payments of pension and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion’ — this is the important thing — ‘shall not be questioned.


"So as a negotiating strategy you say: ‘If you don’t do things my way, I’m going to force the United States to default–not pay the legacy of bills accumulated by my predecessors in Congress.’ It’s not a credible negotiating strategy, and it’s not going to happen," Geithner insisted.

Wait.  Hold on.  Is Geithner saying that the Constitution, via the 14th Amendment, essentially gives Congress unlimited spending power that can’t be questioned?  Because that’s what it seems he’s saying. 

Secondly, there are ways to pay “debts”, “pensions”, etc. without breaking the debt ceiling – cut spending in other areas. 

Finally, depending on the interpretation, a debt ceiling could indeed be an authorized law which limits what can be incurred as public debt – and shouldn’t be questioned.  I doubt the founders had any intent to allow Congress to authorize unlimited and unquestioned spending.  Anyone who can find that sort of an intent stated anywhere by the will truly be informing me of something I didn’t know.

Always good to know you have a Treasury Secretary who sees unlimited spending as a feature, not a bug, and wants it clearly understood that the “important thing” is it shouldn’t be questioned.

Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out, Tim.


Twitter: @McQandO


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26 Responses to Geithner claims GOP has no right to question debt ceiling because Constitution prohibits it

  • Geithner is just as good a constitutional lawyer as he is an economist. No one is questioning the validity of US debt. What some, mostly Democrats, are questioning is the ability to pay that debt. Not to mention the fact that someone who helped screw other holders of valid debt (GM bonds, for example) really has no valid complaint. 

  • Validity is a question of law.
    Capacity is a fiscal question.
    Insolvency is when your CAPACITY to timely pay your VALID debts is lost.
    Idiocy is what you get from the Obami.

  • While Tim is at it, maybe he can review the Constitution’s stand on the whole Congress/President <sic>Lybia thing.

    • Or the whole “interstate commerce” means any-damn-thing we decide it should perfidy.

      • Have you ever noticed Congress seldom thinks the Constitution limits THEIR powers?
        And did you notice some poor military soul admitted our pilots are still flying in harm’s way(combat strike missions) in Libya, contrary to Barack the Liar’s contention that they are not.

      • Pete Stark said the government can do anything it wants. Pelosi pretty much agrees.
        Obama thinks government can do anything it can get away with as long as the Mushroom Media spins things his way.
        If the Repubs take the Senate and White House in ’12, it’ll be funny to watch the Dem’s slam on the brakes and reverse their spin. Whole body whiplash I’m thinkin’!

  • I think he is saying that the Constitution (1) gives the Executive Branch unlimited spending power, and (2) prevents Congress from imposing limits on debt incurred by the Executive Branch and affirmatively requires Congress to appropriate funds for whatever the Executive Branch feels like doing.  This seems like a rather unique take on the separation of powers.

  • Remember that the SC has ruled that SS is simple another tax. They stated in Flemming v. Nestor, that “entitlement to Social Security benefits is not a contractual right”.
    The Treasury has access to plenty of money to pay public debt.

  • Geithner: establishing his “inner ten year old from junior high school”.

  • So why the “Kabuki Dance” if the debt ceiling should not be questioned ?

    Cry Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of debt.”

    • Bu…but Senator Obama said we should not raise the debt ceiling.  It was an abdication of leadership…er something…
      I’m sooooo confused…

  • Holy context, Batman!  Section IV of the Fourteenth Amendment goes on to say:  “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.”  Around this time, what exactly was going on, Geitner?  Oh, that’s right, the reconciliation of an insurrection!  So this provision means the US won’t take on Confederate debt as being the debt of rebels?  No way!  Who could have seen that coming?  And they’re even disavowing Confederate claims for the loss of slaves?  Well this is just a brain-buster.
    Here’s the best part:  Section V:  The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
    And now they are.  They are enforcing that the valid public debt should go no further.
    Is this guy serious?

  • August 2- Debt ceiling prohibits more borrowing by US government.
    August 3- Fed institutes QE3.


    On a conference call with reporters Friday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged that President Obama may not need Congressional authorization to avoid a default on the national debt. But he noted, too, that the Constitutional debate on this question isn’t ripe enough yet for Obama to take an end run around Congress, even if Republicans refuse to increase the national borrowing limit.
    I asked Schumer, a lawyer, whether, in his view, the administration had the power to continue issuing new debt even if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. He acknowledged that the question’s been discussed, but said the White House probably shouldn’t go there just yet.
    “It’s certainly worth exploring,” Schumer said. “I think it needs a little more exploration and study. It’s probably not right to pursue at this point and you wouldn’t want to go ahead and issue the debt and then have the courts reverse it.”

    File under “outlaw president”.
    And, any of you idiot trolls who cite to the 14th Amendment, cite the WHOLE clause respecting debt.
    Or we’ll know you for the liars you are…again…some more…another time…

  • You know some people are writing TAX CHEAT above his name on the dollar bills that bear his signature.
    I hope he enjoys seeing that every time he spends money.

  • Just to be on the safe side, let’s repean the fourteenth amendment.

  • Why is Tim so adament to raise the national debt? Because the Federal Reserve, like any Ponzi scheme, must have new capital or it will collapse. [Ponzi schemes are acts of fraud. Any contract based upon fraud is void from its inception. Why not anckowledge the U.S. has no legal obligation to honor the fraudulent agreement that the National Debt can ever be paid off?]
    New capital for the Fed’s Ponzi scheme comes from inflation, and only an increase in debt can cause inflation. Currently every taxpayer owes $100,000 of the National Debt and this will perpetually increase. Bankrupt Greece is forced to give national assets to bankers; the U.S. is in line.
    The FRBNY handled $8.4 trillion from T-auctions last year and hid the profit from Congress. There is NO government accounting record of these transactions. (Contrary to some belief, the Fed is not the government. QE was a FOMC operation; it was not a government operation with deficit spending.) Title 12, section 247 requires the Fed to give a FULL report to Congress. Concealment is embezzlement. Why not indict the entire Board of Governors, past and present, and have them roommates with Madoff? Ref. or, RIP OFF BY FEDERAL RESERVE

  • Geithner is playing the Washington Monument card.  If the Department of Interior had its budget cut, they would claim they needed to close the Washington Monument.  Little Timmy wants the spending to continue without limit.  The key phrase is “authorized by law.”

    If Visa refused to raise your credit limit, would you default on your mortgage?  No.  You would pay your bills, put the card away, scale back on spending and pay down your balance.  That’s what people do; why can’t the democrats understand?
    There is a revenue stream capable of funding Social Security, Medicare and the military, plus interest on our debt.  If bond holders get paid, there is no default.  Every U.S. Government contains, by law, a termination clause.  If the government decides not to continue with a contract, the government contracting officer sends the contractor a message telling him to stop work and present the government a proposal for actual costs, wind down costs and material that cannot be transferred to another job.  They pay the bill and walk away.  Windmills?  Solar arrays?  Bridges to no where?  Studies of the marsh mouse?