For the framers of our U.S. Constitution, the payment of the national debt was an important factor in providing for the “Common Defense and General Welfare.”
In Federalist Number 30, Alexander Hamilton explains that the power to tax and borrow is for the purpose of preventing a default of the debt.
It is a mistake to argue that the power to “borrow money on the credit of the United States” includes the power of not paying the debt and willfully ruining the credit of the US Government. This is exactly what Republicans have done in 1996, 2011, and now.
They apparently have never read the 14th Amendment.
The “validity of the public debt”
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution includes the following:
“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...”
Seems pretty clear, right? Scholars certainly think so.
“The Fourteenth Amendment’s Public Debt Clause mandates that all the government’s financial obligations be met. The Public Debt Clause is [even] violated when government actions create substantial doubt about the validity of the public debt…,” writes Jacob D. Charles in the Duke Law Journal.
The Repub Playbook
But be warned!! Republicans have demonstrated again and again that they believe that we are ‘not a nation of laws, but of men.” In other words, they can ignore any laws they don’t like, including parts of the Constitution.
You can be assured that if the Republican MAGA low-IQ representatives have their way in violating Amendment 14 and holding our nation hostage over the debt ceiling, the standard Republican Economic Playbook will be resurrected in spades:
Step 1: Republicans push cutting taxes on the rich and big corporations.
Step 2: Reduced tax income means that more money must be borrowed to offset the loss in taxes.
Step 3: Republicans will then push cutting government spending on programs for the poor and middle class like Medicare and Social Security. (This is already part of holding the nation hostage on the debt ceiling.)
Step 4: Republicans help their corporate friends pay as little as possible in wages. Republicans also resist raising the minimum wage and resist all wage increases. Income inequality expands. The well-off get richer, and everyone else gets poorer.
Step 5: House Republicans avoid much-needed spending programs, which would help the nation by providing jobs, growing the economy, and increasing the amount of taxable income which could help pay off debt.
Remember, Republicans believe Government Spending Is Bad – except on their donors’ favorite things like expensive military weapons. The Rs have conned their gerrymandered-district, inattentive, one-issue voters into believing that reducing spending on social programs those voters depend on is actually something those voters should want.
Step 6: Republicans act “surprised” as small businesses start collapsing, and more and more regular people start defaulting on their mortgages, bank loans, and credit cards.
Welcome to yet another Republican-created recession.
Step 7: Republicans do little to fix a recession, so voters support Democrats’ playbook, hoping that the Democrats will be able to fix the bad economy. The Democrats increase Government spending to counteract the economic slowdown caused by the Republicans. Then, Republicans scream bloody murder about how the Democrats are creating government debt with their spending.
As Republicans do this, Hypocrisy 101 should be obvious. For example, a mountain of debt was created by Rs during the Trump Administration because of the 2017 tax cuts. 25% of our current national debt was incurred during the Trump years.
Step 8: The economy slowly recovers due to measures which were pushed by Democrats and fought against by Republicans every step of the way.
Step 9: After economic improvement under Democratic leadership, Republicans spend millions of anonymous dollars [thanks Citizens United court case] conning voters that they will do a better job with the economy than the Democrats. Voters vote the Republicans back into power.
Step 10: Go back to Step 1.
We’ve seen this movie before. It’s time we insisted on a different ending.
The pattern is clear. Trust the American economy, debt payments, and an understanding of constitutional economic laws to Democrats – NOT bought-and-paid-for, corrupt, gaslighting Republicans.
Written by John James Alexander, a pseudonym for a long-time Kentucky educator.