There has been some talk that the President can act unilaterally to raise the nation debt limit based on Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law .. . shall not be questioned”.
The argument has been made that since Congress has ALREADY authorized BY LAW each obligation represented in the national debt, by appropriating the funds for various expenditures, any overall “debt limit” is artificially redundant. It would be like writing a bunch of checks and then refusing to deposit the funds in your account to cover them. While a constitutional challenge of the debt limit law may be a defensible argument in the spirit of the 14th Amendment it is not unequivocally compelling, as the 14th Amendment does not expressly authorize what proponents are asking the President to do.
In this context, it is astonishing that apparently nobody has bothered to read the text of Public Debt Law of 1941 itself, embodied in 31 USC 3101, which is what codifies a national debt limit. That law states that:
“The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter and the
face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are
guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed
obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) may not be more
than [some arbitrary huge number] . . .except guaranteed obligations
held by the Secretary of The Treasury”.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2011
Media Contact: Adam Sarvana (202) 225-2435
(202) 573-2562 cell
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today released the following statement on the emerging debt deal:
“This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it. Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage.
This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it.
Save Lives and Money by
Expanding Medicare to All
By Dr. Quentin Young
Beaver County Blue via Fire Dog Lake
July 31, 2011 – With media attention focused on the debt-ceiling drama in Washington, and with so many Americans rightly preoccupied with the frightening level of joblessness and bleak state of the economy, it might seem strange to urge a national celebration of Medicare’s 46th anniversary this Saturday, July 30.
After all, if we’re to believe top lawmakers, Medicare is part of the problem, right? Aren’t we supposed to be talking about raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67, reducing benefits, increasing seniors’ co-pays and deductibles or, even more dire, abolishing the program altogether and handing seniors vouchers to buy private insurance?
Wrong. Despite its market-obsessed detractors and those who would weaken the program in the name of deficit reduction, Medicare is the solution, not the problem. More precisely, an improved Medicare for all – a single-payer health system – is the right prescription for treating not only our health care woes, but our ailing economy as well.
The biggest albatross around the neck of our health care system is the private insurance industry, which remains firmly entrenched under the new federal health law.
Hidden In The Budget:
The End Of Almost Every
Major Environmental Regulation
Today via Fast Company
Once the debt ceiling debate is settled, Congress is going to have to re-focus on the budget that almost shut down the government a few months ago. As part of that process, members of Congress have attached various provisions to the appropriations bills. One bill includes policy riders that deal with longstanding environmental rules–things like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. It’s called the 2012 Interior and Environmental Appropriations bill  and as currently written, it would scale back or reverse decades of environmental protections, including:
Removing Clean Air Act protections
One rider on the bill would nix the EPA’s funding to enforce the Clean Air Act’s upcoming Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants, which are intended to cut soot and smog pollution. The same rider would stop the EPA from enacting the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (aka the "good neighbor policy"), which limits power plant pollution that drifts into other states.
Most of the regulations being targeted are Clean Air Act rules put on the books in 1990 (signed by the first President Bush). "These are things people have been aware of for a long time," says Tony Kreindler, director of strategic communications at the Environmental Defense Fund. "Most companies out there that are affected have been preparing for a long time." But Kreindler explains that some companies–such as American Electric Power–have been bitterly fighting the rules, saying they haven’t had enough time to prepare, "while all along everyone else has known somehow that the day has been coming for 20 years."
If funding for the Mercury and Air Toxics rule is upheld, Kreindler estimates that it could prevent 17,000 premature deaths. Another 17,000 could be saved by the good neighbor policy. So if these policies are not upheld, well, do the math.
Mitt Romney at Screen Machine in Ohio
By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue
Some things just drive you nuts.
Take Mitt Romney. Yesterday the GOP’s presidential wannabe toured Screen Machine, a factory in Pataskala, Ohio, just outside Columbus. The plant make heavy construction equipment, rock crushers to be exact.
Romney and the owners, Doug and Steve Cohen, held a typical photo-op. Mitt took the occasion to blast both Obama and ‘government’ as ‘bad for business.’
Really? What did Mitt have in mind? A wimpy stimulus package? A failure to build more infrastructure? In that case, he might have a point.
Clean Water, Green Energy and the Big Blue Marble
By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue
A Reuter’s story this morning about the rising threat to the water supplies of 12 East Coast cities connected a few dots for me. The threat comes from burning carbon and climate change, which will raise sea levels and wreak havoc in numerous ways.
"Rising sea waters may threaten U.S. coastal cities later this century, while the Midwest and East Coast are at high risk for intense storms, and the West’s water supplies could be compromised, "the story led off. "These are among the expected water-related effects of climate change on 12 cities across the nation over the remainder of the century, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental group.
"A lot of people think of climate change in the global context, but they don’t think about the local impact climate change might have, particularly on water-related issues," said Steve Fleischli, a senior attorney with NRDC’s water program."
Perhaps it’s because my daughters and grandkids live in New York City that the story caught my eye. ‘We’ll have to make room for them here in Beaver County,’ up in the hills on the west slope of the Alleghenies, I first thought.
But what about the Marcellus shale fracking by the gas drillers? We might not have any decent water here, either.