My view: Don't be fooled; Congress can pay the bills

5:32 PM, Jan. 16, 2013  |  Comments
Mary Jo HaneMy View
Mary Jo HaneMy View
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There are many scenarios being bantered about as the "debt ceiling" crisis looms before Congress and the country. In the paper today, Jan. 14, there is an article which, in my opinion, adds fuel to the fire but does not deal with the facts ("If Congress refuses, what bills get paid?", Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, Daily Tribune, Monday, Jan. 14, page 7A). Jay Carney is quoted as saying there are two options; Congress can pay the bills or not, in which case they put the nation into default. Not quite true, Mr. Carney. He needs to go and read our Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment. But he, as well as Obama, prefer to twist the truth in an attempt to scare the population.

Let's look at some facts. Congress' failure to raise the debt ceiling will not cause a default on the national debt. In fact, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment provides that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law shall not be questioned". Thus Congress can not deny the government's lawfully-incurred debts. So this does not put America's current creditors at risk. Plus the government takes in about $200 billion in tax revenue per month which is sufficient to service existing debts.

While the White House claims that Congress must raise the debt ceiling to pay for their obligations, these obligations do not include entitlement programs such as Medicare, Social Security, Welfare, etc. These programs are not part of the "public debt". In fact in the 14th Amendment the word used to talk about payments is "debt" not "obligations". A big difference. So Congress has no legal or Constitutional obligation to pay for entitlement programs.

Which, by the way, is not really Social Security. All of us who have worked and paid into Social Security, this is our money, and it would still be there except that Congress for too many years has "borrowed" from it to pay for their out-of-control spending.

Lastly the misconception put forth by none other than Nancy Pelosi, scary isn't it, is that the president can by himself raise the debt ceiling. Section 4 grants no power to the president, the 14th Amendment grants Congress the "power to enforce through legislation the provisions in this article". Congress is the only body empowered to raise taxes, borrow money and dictate how revenues are spent. I feel that Rep. Pelosi, along with all her colleagues, needs to go back and read the Constitution which she has pledged to uphold.

What Obama and the Democrats don't want us to know is that spending cuts must be done across the board, and we must stop borrowing without limits. The president is not in charge of public finances, Congress is, and they need to do their job and stop all the partisan bickering. It won't be easy, and we will all feel the pinch, but isn't that better than becoming Greece in the year(s) to come?

Congress can continue to pay its bills, don't be fooled by the media rhetoric.

Mary Jo Hane is a Wisconsin Rapids resident.

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