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January 09, 2013

White House pans raising the debt ceiling itself

Some Democrats are reprising their call for President Obama to resolve the looming standoff on the debt ceiling all by himself by invoking an obscure provision in the U.S. Constitution.

But Press Secretary Jay Carney says the White House is opposed to using the 14th amendment as a fix. The White House rejected the idea last year when Democrats floated it.

"Let's be very clear, Congress has the responsibility and the sole authority to raise the debt ceiling, and Congress must do its job," Carney said, adding that the money involved has already been spent and that Congress must "pay the bills that its already racked up.

"This is not about future spending," Carney said. "This is about you going to the store and charging some goods on your credit card. You've made those purchases. The bill comes. You pay the bill. You don't tear it up and decide you're not going to pay it unless you get what you want from store management. You pay your bills."

"The United States has always paid its bills. Congress has the responsibility and the authority to do that, and the president will not negotiate over it."

Democrats have said that Obama could draw on Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution essentially to make an end run around Congress. Obama could simply assert that he holds authority to raise the debt limit to protect the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.The White House checked out the idea last year, but Obama said at the time that administration lawyers were "not persuaded that that is a winning argument."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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