In a recent interview, former President Bill Clinton said he would use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if he were in President Barack Obama’s place, and a deal with Congress could not be reached.
“Former President Bill Clinton says that he would invoke the so-called constitutional option to raise the nation’s debt ceiling ‘without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me’ in order to prevent a default,” according to an exclusive interview with The National Memo, published online today.
Raising the debt limit “is necessary to pay for appropriations already made,” Clinton reportedly said, “so you can’t say, ‘Well, we won the last election and we didn’t vote for some of that stuff, so we’re going to throw the whole country’s credit into arrears.’”
Clinton admitted in the interview that he never considered using the Amendment in his showdowns with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Republicans during his Administration.
Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution reads: “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.” There has been dispute among legal scholars as to whether the 14th Amendment could legally be used in the manner Clinton describes.
“The reason that raising the debt limit is so unpopular is that people think you’re voting to keep [increasing] deficit spending, instead of voting to honor obligations that were already incurred,” Clinton said. “I think [the Gingrich Republicans] figured I’d be smart enough to explain to the American people that they were refusing to pay for the expenses they had voted for when Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were president. And that would make ‘em look bad.”
Clinton said he believed Obama would not have to resort to the unusual tactic, as he believes an agreement will be reached before the Aug. 2 deadline: “It looks to me like they’re going to make an agreement, and that’s smart.”