in Federal Government , 698 references
Can we stop with the crazy?
Here's the clause that has CNN and a bunch of other wide-eyed nuts salivating:
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.
Key: Authorized by law.
All spending must originate in the House (per the Constitution.) However, Congress is the source of such limitation as well, and nothing in that clause -- or anywhere else in the Constitution says that Congress may not bind the execution of said spending based on the receipt of taxes to offset any debt that may otherwise be required.
This is the same thing your bank does. You have $100,000 of income. You also have a credit card with a $20,000 credit line. If you keep invading it on the premise that you expect to earn $110,000 this year, because you are paid partially on commission or bonus, the bank can refuse to increase the line if that income does not materialize. Thus, when you reach the $20 large that's all there is.
Likewise you can execute a Will that says "you get $1 million dollars provided you take care of my dog, including anything it may require to be healthy and live its best life, until its natural death." This a two-part test and it is perfectly legal. This sort of clause is literally all over estate plans and business contracts: You get X provided you do both Y and Z. If you do not wish to do either of Y or Z then you don't get X.
Congress has done this by enacting the debt ceiling. Neither Congress or the Executive can accurately predict how much tax revenue will come in. Taxes, of course, come from economic activity; no activity, no taxes. The CBO projects that revenue will be "X" and so does Treasury, but those are guesses because they rely on things that have not yet occurred and as such are inherently inaccurate.
Congress has set in place a two-part system for this. The first is Appropriations, which are authorizations to spend and levies to be taxed. The second is the debt ceiling, which is a hard limit on the difference between the two over time.
No, Treasury cannot go around this by claiming something in the 14th Amendment makes the Appropriation sacrosanct. Congress has the authority under the Constitution, and has exercised it, to control the purse. To be enabled by law and thus immune from being questioned debt that is issued by Treasury must be (1) issued for an appropriated purpose AND (2) be within the debt ceiling in effect at the time of said issue.
If it is then under the 14th Amendment it is valid.
This is no different than a whiny 18 year old screaming that Grandpa said he'd give said 18 year old $20,000 conditioned on him going to college and maintaining passing grades, and now he's pissed off because he went, got drunk every day chasing girls and when he flunked out Gramps cut the money off. What we are seeing now, and have in the past, is exactly the same thing: Petulant, infantile arguments by politicians that they "deserve" to do that which they law does not permit.
Any bill, bond or other indebtedness, now matter how done via whatever means of manipulation, incurred by Treasury that results in a level of debt beyond the ceiling is not valid and to the extent that Treasury tries to conflate that they are violating the Constitution and risking the entire world declaring that none of the issued debt is in fact good as they are ignoring the predicate requirements in our prime directive founding documents.
Oh, by the way, no, refusing to raise the ceiling is not a default. Treasury has the funds to pay the principal (or roll it) and interest since rolling said debt does not increase the ceiling and the money is there to pay the interest. Those payments have legal priority so the claim that refusal to raise the ceiling would result in a "default" is a lie. What would occur is that Treasury would be unable to spend that which it does not tax first, after deducting said interest payments. That would piss off plenty of people who otherwise believe they will get said funds and who also think they're entitled to provide good and services to the government (and then would have to choose between not providing them and not getting paid for them) but it is not a "default."
That's the beginning and end of it folks until and unless Congress repeals the debt ceiling entirely.