Fox News host Steve Doocy misrepresented President Obama’s proposal to avoid the possibility of a federal government default on its financial obligations in order to claim that the president has proposed changing the Constitution.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner proposed that Congress should pass a law giving the president authority to avoid default by raising the ceiling on how much the federal government can borrow. Under the proposal, the president’s authority would be subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress. Geithner’s proposal was based on an idea originally put forward by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
Geithner’s proposal is urgent because the federal government is expected to reach the debt ceiling early in 2013, meaning that if Congress does not act, the federal government will begin defaulting on some of its obligations for the first time in history.
On the December 7 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Doocy interviewed Republican Sen. John Thune (SD) and opined that it was “good news for the Republicans” that there would soon be a fight between Obama and congressional Republicans over the federal debt ceiling because Republicans would “obviously have the upper hand on that.” Thune responded in part by saying that “what we’re told is the president is even thinking about what he might be able to do to raise the debt ceiling without going through Congress, which would be a huge mistake and ought to be unconstitutional.”
Rather than amend the Constitution or change the way it has been interpreted, Obama has proposed legislation that would amend the current statute that puts a limit on the federal government’s borrowing.
The debt ceiling is merely a provision of law passed by Congress, which can be amended or repealed at any time through ordinary legislation without any change to the Constitution.