Cold Water on the “Constitutional Option”

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Those who think the president can say that the 14th Amendment allows the government to keep creating debt beyond the debt limit were dealt a blow just now, when Barney Frank derided the idea in a hearing called by Democrats.

“I think it would cause a great crisis in our democracy” if debt was created without a rise in the debt limit, Frank told economist Bruce Bartlett, a former Republican who has been talking up the “constitutional option.” Frank simply didn’t see a way for this to work, and warned of political disaster.

“The anger in the country, the political bitterness and the vitriol, would be amplified,” he said, “and you’d let people off the hook for their irresponsibility.”