Watch CBS News

Opinion: The Fourteenth Amendment Solution

The Buck Starts Here

With one month to go before the U.S. goes off what is being called by some the fiscal cliff and others, more accurately, the fiscal slope, the president and Democrats hold all the cards.

Absent a deal, when the ball drops in Times Square ushering in the New Year all of the Bush Tax cuts will expire and Republicans will have raised taxes on every American.

Democrats have already passed a bill in the Senate that would leave in place tax cuts for all Americans on their first $250,000 of income.

Even the wealthiest Americans will retain part of the reduced rates.

The Republicans are in a tough spot on taxes because they went all in on the 2012 election – and lost.

The fiscal slope was put in place by Republicans. This was their solution to the debt limit crisis they created in the summer of 2011. When offered a four billion dollar deficit reduction deal they balked and decided to take this issue to the voters.

That plan did not work out for the GOP.

In fact, 60 percent of voters back raised rates for the wealthiest Americans, at a minimum.

Speaker John Boehner believes he holds a strong hand as well. He is, once again, taking the global economy hostage and playing politics with the U.S. debt limit, also referred to as the debt ceiling.

Previous Congresses have raised the debt limit as required because to do anything else is reckless, stupid and threatens economic growth.

Boehner has one very serious problem, however. The debt limit violates the Constitution.

More accurately, setting a debt limit that does not meet the obligations of the Treasury is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Section Four of that Amendment states that "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."

Section Five states that "the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

The Fourteenth Amendment mandates the government to pay all debts that are authorized by law and to enforce that through legislation. The Amendment does not allow Congress to legislate a debt ceiling that is at odds with the spending it has authorized.

By pressing the debt ceiling issue once again, House Republicans are acting in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States.

Republicans in the House do not have any authority to force the United States to do anything other than pay our debts. They are playing a silly and stupid game over a tax battle they have already lost at the ballot box.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.