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Mr President, please do what you were elected to do, and invoke the 14th Amendment to do whatever is necessary, whenever it is necessary

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Our country is currently being held hostage by the partisan bickering that is going on in our nation’s capital. This is just another dog and pony show, to be sure, but nevertheless the stakes have never been higher. We are in an unprecedented crisis, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. And still, while Rome burns, our elected officials fiddle, refusing to accept the reality of our situation and do what is necessary to ensure our country’s survival.

We must raise our debt limit by the completely hard and fast August 2nd deadline. If we do not, the United States will default on all of its obligations, and our nation — and, indeed, the entire world — shall be thrown into chaos.

While our president has shown admirable leadership in this crisis, by giving a speech in prime time, the fools on the (capitol) hill have done nothing but squabble. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of the squabbling. It is partisan bickering and I am sick of it. The American people are sick of it. There are polls that show how sick of it people are. Our leaders must compromise — that is the only way out of this crisis. Our leaders must pass another bill that does the same thing that they have always done before.

The debt limit has always been raised in the past. The fact that there is so much debate about it this time only proves how dysfunctional our system has become. It is unsustainable. Nothing will ever get done if our elected leaders have to squabble with each other. Think about that: Do you want to live in a world where your government can’t do what is necessary to keep you from starving to death all the time because elected leaders are squabbling?

A few of our elected leaders other than Mr. Obama have shown admirable leadership, presenting the president with one viable option for saving the country from the partisan bickering that is threatening to destroy it, and put your grandmother out on the street — streets that will no longer be maintained due to lack of funds, by the way. The one thing that can save us is the 14th Amendment to the Constitution:

[Rep. James] Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said Wednesday that if the president is delivered a bill to raise the debt ceiling for only a short period of time, he should instead veto it and turn to the phrase in the Constitution that says the validity of the U.S. government’s debt “shall not be questioned.”

“If that’s what lands on his desk, a short-term lifting of the ceiling, the debt ceiling, he should put it on his desk next to an executive order,” Clyburn said at a press conference. “He should sign an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment to this issue.” The Associated Press reported that he was applauded when he suggested the idea at a caucus meeting earlier in the day.

No one seriously disputes that, if August 2nd comes and goes without a deal on raising the debt ceiling, August 3rd will be a day of unprecedented disaster. Everything that you know and love about your country will collapse around you. Your grandparents would not receive the social security checks that ensure they don’t resort to cannibalism in their retirement homes. Your parents, who rely on Medicare and Medicaid to maintain their breathing machines, will be left gasping for breath. Your children, who rely on school lunch programs, will be left without food to eat at school, and will starve. You will not be able to go to your favorite national park to enjoy nature, and will have to resort to staying indoors. The air will become toxic from a lack of EPA enforcement of clean air laws, which you might not even notice since you wouldn’t be able to go to a national park anyway because those parks will be closed. We would have to stop fighting the war on drugs, meaning that people might be able to buy allergy medicine at Costco without showing ID. We might not be able to pay for our kinetic military action in Libya, leaving Gaddafi in charge. Some of the 900 military bases around the world might have to close. Gitmo would close, sending terrorists out into the world. That guy who leaked all that stuff to wikileaks would be released. Federal prisons would be closed, and child rapists would be released and move into homes down the street from you and your children. The full faith and credit of the United States would be in doubt, meaning that fewer people would be willing to lend money to us, so we wouldn’t be able to continue all these great programs we’ve all gotten used to having.

The above are just some of the more pleasant nightmare scenarios we all might face, if the inmates continue to run the asylum, and no one is willing to be the adult in the room.

The president must take steps to ensure none of this happens. The president must be the adult doctor in the room of the asylum. He must stop the people in congress from fiddling, and he must put out the fire that is burning down Rome. In fact, he must stop all of the metaphors that I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.

The president must invoke his super powers established in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The full text of that Amendment states,

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. 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.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Clearly, Rep. Clyburn is correct, and this Amendment gives the president to act unilaterally if the members of congress are acting like a bunch of babies and won’t do their job, which is to enact “appropriate legislation” (see Section 5 above), i.e., raise the debt ceiling when the president tells them that if they don’t by a certain date, our starving grandparents will be raped by federal prisoners who are let out of prisons that have to close because we can’t pay for them.

But I fear that Rep. Clyburn is incorrect when he implies that the 14th Amendment should be applied only to our current “Debt Crisis,” or, as I prefer to call it, our “Debt Wish,” which sounds a bit like “Death Wish,” which I feel conveys a sense of the deadly urgency of this “Debt Crisis,” which I feel is being lost in most coverage of our “Debt Wish.” Because, you see, the 14th Amendment says that “the validity of the public debt…shall not be questioned.”  Not only does the 14th Amendment give the president the power to raise the debt ceiling on those occasions when the congress petulantly and intransigently refuses to do so, but it also gives the president the power to do everything that is necessary to ensure that the government fulfills all of the debts it owes to its citizens — the public. Debts such as social security payments. Debts like medicare and medicaid. Debts like the recently passed health care entitlements. Debts like our school system and our roads. Debts like our military. Debts like every single thing our government does for its citizens. It is incumbent upon our government, which is led by our president, to ensure that these debts are paid in full.

Our president has the authority to act any time these public debts are threatened by lawmakers looking to score partisan political points by cutting funding to any of the services we owe to our public. It is time for our president to do what we elected him to do: use his Constitutional authority to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to ensure that all of our public debts are paid.

Ricky Sprague occasionally writes and/or draws things. He sometimes animates things. He has a Twitter account and he has a blog. He scripted this graphic novel about Kolchak The Night Stalker. He is really, really good at putting links in bios.
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