The Debt Ceiling Showdown: Joe Biden Has Created His Very Own Constitutional Crisis
With dreadfully low approval ratings, surrounded by much uncertainty as he enters into what will be his last campaign—his bid for a second term as president in the 2024 election—President Joe Biden has taken a bizarre course: risking a default on America’s massive debt that could crash the already tenuous economy.
Less than two weeks remain before Congress must raise the debt ceiling if the United States is to be able to continue paying its bills, Biden is attempting to have his cake-and-eat-it-too.
Joe Biden wants to raise the debt ceiling, but he doesn’t want to negotiate in good faith with the House Republicans who are holding up that debt ceiling vote.
The Republicans are holding up the debt ceiling vote because they want to engage in negotiations to rein in the profligate spending that the US government—notably the Democrats—have engaged in for decades. They want to get the president onside to create meaningful legislation that will lower the debt long-term and not be a burden for future generations, such as it is now.
Joe Biden and the Democrats, though, are cynically committed to using our tax dollars to purchase the votes and support from a variety of groups in the electorate. If the taxpayer-funded gravy train stops, it will help ameliorate the debt problem, but it will also significantly damage the Democrats’ chances of reelection.
To avoid this fate, Biden is looking at ways to raise the debt ceiling without input from the Legislative Branch.
Biden Will Break the Constitution to Save It…Or Something
According to President Joe Biden, he has the authority under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, if it appears that the country’s full faith-and-credit is on the line.
Should the Republicans threaten America’s full faith and credit, Biden is arguing that he is obligated to protect that—even if it means taking action as the chief executive usually reserved exclusively for the Legislative Branch.
Herein lies the makings of what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described as a “constitutional crisis” in the making.
I have previously written about how dangerous it is both for the Republicans to hold up the debt ceiling vote going into what will be a tough election year and how silly it is for the Democrats to not even try to act in good faith and negotiate on some key points with the Republicans.
Even at the height of the Obama Administration’s war with the House Republicans during the debt crises of the 2010s, then-Vice-President Joe Biden was able to sit down with his former Republican senate colleague, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and get a republic-saving deal.
That Joe Biden is gone, though. I doubt that Biden, if he were still mentally fit, was actually as moderate as he pretended to be at various points in his career. After all, Biden did pull Obama to the Left on several key issues. Anyway, what does it matter?
Joe Biden is not even the real man in charge. The forty-sixth president is but an empty vessel for some of the most extreme elements of the Democratic Party—including his own wife, First Lady Jill Biden.
And Biden’s top advisers (his handlers) had ignored the concerns of their Republican rivals in the House of Representatives because they arrogantly assumed that the American people would automatically blame the Republicans for any default that would arise from the Republicans’ insistence that the debt ceiling be negotiated.
To be fair, I had also assumed this. It may yet still come to pass in the long-run, as the GOP rarely comes out looking well in fights like this.
Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans Hold Strong
Yet, for now, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has solid polling numbers, all things considered. Many Americans are behind the Republicans in their demands that some spending limits be imposed in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
Realizing that it is Biden who looks bad and the Republicans who are doing better than expected as they call for responsible spending limits, the Democrats are now stuck between a legislative rock and a hard place with the electorate.
They had months—since January, at least—to sit down and begin negotiations.
They waited until about a month before the vote was set to take place on June 1 before even addressing the issue. And the first meeting was entirely unproductive, largely because the Democrats refused to bend on their demands to get everything they wanted.
The Democrats don’t respect the Constitution or even election results. If they did, the Biden Administration would have recognized that the Republicans won an election in their own right in 2022 and gained a majority in the United States House of Representatives.
What’s more, the Democrats wouldn’t be threatening to take the wholly unconstitutional action of having Joe Biden unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval if they respected the Constitution and its separation of powers.
We are entering a very dangerous moment in our country’s existence. With less than two weeks remaining before the debt ceiling must be voted on, as neither side can come to a consensus on how best to proceed (because the Democrats are not operating in good faith), I’ve little doubt that Joe Biden will seek to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, claims that it’s a violation of the Constitution notwithstanding.
He simply cannot afford to negotiate and risk the goodies that Democrats love purchasing votes with from being withheld by the debt-conscious House Republicans.
Joe Biden and McCarthy Position Themselves to Survive the Collapse
Then, Biden will position himself as a man of the people, fighting gallantly to ensure that grandma and grandpa get their social security checks and the poor people of America get their welfare checks. Of course, left unsaid is that all of this was avoidable, if Biden had just sat down and negotiated in good faith.
McCarthy and the Republicans should be commended, though, as they are not looking like the crazy ones just yet. If the economy goes off the fiscal cliff as a result of the debt default, though, they just might get blamed.
Then again, if Biden unilaterally raises the debt ceiling that might be the best thing for the GOP. The GOP gets to avoid the embarrassing appearance of being weak in the face of a powerful chief executive and then they can finally begin impeachment proceedings against Biden for having violated the Constitution—and the GOP will then likely have the support of many Americans, who will recognize the inherent unfairness of Biden’s actions.
The Coming Constitutional Crisis
One thing is clear, though, we are on the brink of a major constitutional crisis unless, somehow, the Democrats come to their senses and negotiate in good faith with the Republicans over the next two weeks. It’s not looking like that will happen. But one can pray, as that’s all either the Democratic or Republican Parties have left us with.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.