Abolish the debt ceiling. No more toxic budget games with GOP legislators willing to destroy our democracy.

  • Action #1: Call your legislators. There are already bills proposed to eliminate the debt ceiling.
  • Action #2: Email Biden and tell him to flex his powers. No president should allow any faction of Congress to play power games that could destroy our country’s economy.

We are tired of both our lives and our democracy being threatened by Republicans, be they lawless insurrectionists intent on overturning an election, or a seditious congressman expressing the “dread” he would feel if he were forced to shoot us. We are tired of the GOP’s death cult spurring on the pandemic with fake cures, misinformation and threats against officials and scientists. And we are tired of GOP legislators, after spending like “drunken sailors” under Trump “on the rich, on the wealthy, on corporate interests,” taking our pandemic recovery package hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, the equivalent of an economic nuclear bomb. All while squealing that we’re “mortgaging Our Children’s Future.”

It’s past time to get rid of this whole poisonous mechanism.

Action #1: Call your legislators. There are already bills proposed to eliminate the debt ceiling.

Minimum script for representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to dump the toxic debt ceiling game once and for all and pass H.R. 1041 – To repeal the debt ceiling” and H.R. 3305 – “End the Threat of Default Act.”

Minimum script for senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to dump the toxic debt ceiling game once and for all and pass S.1785 – “End the Threat of Default Act.” If the nationwide suppression of voting rights isn’t enough for [him/her] to remove the filibuster, we hope the senator will consider the harm of allowing the GOP to set off a global economic crises.

More script if you want it/email: The debt ceiling measures “no coherent economic value” and has “no relationship to economic stressors.” and few other first-world countries have one. However, it allows the GOP to threaten us with an economic ruin worse that the 2008 Great Recession to force us to give up our most important legislative goals. When they did this in 2011, it cost us taxpayers over $1.3 billion dollars, and their 16-day shutdown in 2013 cost the US economy $24 billion, reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth and caused the loss of 120,000 private sector jobs. Janet Yellen, our treasury secretary, says we can afford what it takes to get the economy back on its feet, to get us through the pandemic, and to relieve the burdens that it is placing on households and small businesses.” Yesterday, she said we should remove the debt limit, calling it a “very destructive” threat to the full faith and credit of the U.S.” The GOP wants to crush popular programs the help would help Americans recover from the pandemic and thrive, in the interest of corporate lobbyists and for their messaging advantage at the ballot box. Take their debt-ceiling weapon away from them.

  • H.R. 1041 – cosponsors here. (Neither Browley or Carbajal are on the list)
  • H.R. 3305 – cosponsors here. (Neither Browley or Carbajal are on the list)
  • S.1785 – cosponsors here. (Neither Feinstein or Padilla are on the list)

Contact:

  • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
  • and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Action #2: Email Biden and tell him to flex his powers.

Minimum email script for President Biden:

Dear Joe,

The GOP is weaponizing the debt ceiling to force Democrats in Congress to give up your popular programs to keep the country from the economic hell of a government shutdown. This may be just another power game for Sen. McConnell, but for our pandemic-stricken nation, a debt limit freeze or the loss of your restorative agenda with hit average Americans hard.

We need you to step up and stop this destructive game by using your executive powers to unilaterally abolish the debt ceiling. The U.S. needs to join the vast majority of rich countries who don’t have a one. 

Experts think you have four available options. (tinyurl.com/4-ways-to-stop-debt-ceiling)

  • Minting super-high-value coins to fund the government: The treasury secretary can mint a platinum coin in any denomination they wish. Like a trillion dollars.
  • Invoking the 14th Amendment to nullify the debt ceiling. According to Section 4 of the 14th amendment, our reputation must be protected – ” 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.
  • Issuing more debt as the “least illegal” option available to the Treasury: By setting spending and tax policy as well as a debt limit, Congress has given you three mandates: to spend the amount they authorized; to tax the amount they authorized; and to issue as much debt as they authorized. When the debt ceiling is breached, it’s impossible for the you to obey all three of these legal requirements. The least unconstitutional option is to respect their “taxing and spending powers.”
  • Creating a new class of bond to fund the government while it cannot issue Treasury bonds

We admired your stand against a bad court decision on the eviction crises. Now we need you to fight back against the GOP’s hostage-taking of our country’s economy.

Contact: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

The main issues…

Although this is from 2015, it remains accurate for our pandemic-stricken country right now.

  • The debt limit is a sham.
  • The GOP desperately needs a talking point: Biden’s programs are popular. So the GOP is warming up their favorite, fraudulent talking point – that the national debt should be thought of as a normal family’s budget. No average family is allowed to print its own money, tax others at will, deflate their debt unilaterally or live perpetually.
  • The Trump GOP pushed us to the limit. The Trump Administration’s tax cuts to the rich and huge military spending added almost $7.8 trillion, the third biggest increase under any president, after George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln.
  • Its presence endangers the economic welfare of our country. The GOP’s toxic gamesmanship can cause another recession worse than that of 2008, and directly harm not only government employees, but the poor and the elderly who rely on government assistance.
  • In 2011, the GOP’s refusal to raise the debt ceiling cost US taxpayers over $1.3 BILLION dollars. They also forced through the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), which was largely responsible for the sluggish recovery from the Great Recession.

History

9/30/2021:Senate Democrats and Republicans on Thursday approved a measure to fund the government into early December, putting lawmakers one step close toward staving off a shutdown that is set to occur after midnight. The vote followed weeks of hand wringing between the two parties, after Democrats initially sought to move the measure along with another proposal to raise the country’s debt ceiling. Republicans blocked that effort, leaving the country’s ability to borrow unresolved just 18 days before the next major fiscal deadline.

9/29/2021: The House just passed a bill with a 219-212 vote to suspend the federal debt limit through Dec. 17, 2022, largely along party lines, three weeks before the U.S. is on track to default on the national debt. It now heads to the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to oppose any increase or suspension of the debt limit and already blocked two separate Democratic measures to stave off a default this week.

The ferocity of today’s debt ceiling debates would seem to indicate a deep-rooted history. Something in the Constitution, maybe. Nope. Like the filibuster, it’s morphed into a monster far removed from its beginning just over a hundred years ago.

  • The debt ceiling is the limit on how much money the federal government will be allowed to add to the total of cumulative debt outstanding from generations past. Every so often, Congress votes to raise the limit so it can continue borrowing. Congress has raised the debt ceiling almost 100 times since its inception.
    • 1917: the first debt ceiling, with a $1 billion dollar cap, was proposed at the beginning of WWI to placate anti-war congress members.
    • 1939: during WWII, the ceiling acquired mechanisms to allow it to move upwards.
    • 1994: This was the first year that the debt limit was weaponized by the GOP, under House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a militant conservative, who spotlighted the ceiling as a partisan issue and removed the rule that automatically raised the limit with the passage of each year’s budget.
    • 2011: The GOP’s fight over the debt limit under Obama cost the government over $1.3 billion to borrow money over the debt ceiling.
      • The GOP demanded passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA), an anti-stimulus that slowed down the recovery from the Great Recession by an estimated 5-6 years.
    • 2013: The GOP repeated their debt fight under Obama, roiling financial markets as the government shut down for 16 days, nearly pushing the United States into default again. It cost the US economy $24 billion, reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth and 120,000 private sector jobs.
    • 2017: the limit was set at $22 trillion, along with a suspension mechanism to allow $6.5 more to be borrowed. Under Trump, the GOP partnered with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without issue.
  • Hitting the limit leaves the government without the money to meet the payroll and pay for government purchases and send out all those checks for Social Security and Medicare and all other forms of federal obligation.

Can Biden overturn the debt limit?

Executive fiat: The president has the duty to ward off serious threats to the constitutional and economic system of the United States.When Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, he said that it was necessary to violate one law, lest all the laws but one fall into ruin. So too here: the president may need to violate the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophe — whether a default on the debt or an enormous reduction in federal spending, which would throw the country back into recession.

In 2011, when the GOP refused to vote for a rise in the debt limit, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, proposed to delegate to the president the power to raise the debt ceiling, subject to some minor procedural constraints. Seriously. If Obama had taken the wily senator up on his invitation, “Republicans will be publicly outraged, but privately relieved. They do not want an economic catastrophe; they can avoid violating their no-taxes pledge; and they retain the power to fight the budget battle another day.”

The 14th Amendment: When the GOP was turning the screws on the country in 2011, former President Bill Clinton proposed that Obama use Section 4 of the 14th amendment to start the money flowing again.

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.

Though the rest of that paragraph details that neither the US, nor states need to pay debt that aided the insurrection or recompense slave owners, the overall arc of the statement is that Congress in not allowed to default on debt. In Perry v. U.S., (1935) Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes stated that

9. The power given Congress to borrow money on the credit of the United States is unqualified and vital to the Government, and the binding quality of the promise of the United States is of the essence of the credit pledged.

11. Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, declaring that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, . . . shall not be questioned,” is confirmatory of a fundamental principle, applying as well to bonds issued after, as to those issued before, the adoption of the Amendment, and the expression “validity of the public debt ” embraces whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations. 

Resources

  • (npr.org) Congress Is Seeking (Its Own) Permission To Borrow Another Trillion Or Two
  • (epi.org) Abolish the debt ceiling before it commits austerity again
  • (NYT) Obama Should Raise the Debt Ceiling on His Own
  • (CNN) Cost of (2011) debt ceiling fight: $1.3 billion
  • (Time) How much did the (2013) shutdown cost the economy?
  • (obamawhitehouse) Impacts and Costs of the (2013) Government Shutdown
  • (NYT) The 14th Amendment, the Debt Ceiling and a Way Out
  • (VOX) How Joe Biden could end the debt ceiling — all by himself
  • (VOX) Abolish the debt ceiling
  • (rollcall.com) Potential fallback for debt ceiling fraught with complications
  • (Yahoo) Guy Who Voted to Add $1.9 Trillion to the National Debt to Fund Rich Person Tax Cuts: Think of the Children
  • (rollingstone) The mad science of the national debt
  • (guardian) National debt: critics cry hypocrisy as Republicans oppose Biden spending
  • (scholarship.law.gwu.edu) Bargaining in the Shadow of the Debt Ceiling: When Negotiating over Spending and Tax Laws, Congress and the President Should Consider the Debt Ceiling a Dead Letter
  • (theHill) Yellen calls for ‘very destructive’ debt limit to be abolished

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