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Treasury: No to 14th Amendment Route

Treasury's General Counsel George Madison submitted to the New York Times today the following letter to the editor:

July 8, 2011

The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Contrary to Professor Laurence Tribe's assertion (Op-Ed, July 8), Secretary Geithner has never argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the President to disregard the statutory debt limit. As Professor Tribe notes, the Constitution explicitly places the borrowing authority with Congress, not the President.

The Secretary has cited the 14th Amendment's command that "[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned" in support of his strong conviction that Congress has an obligation to ensure we are able to honor the obligations of the United States. Like every previous Secretary of the Treasury who has confronted the question, Secretary Geithner has always viewed the debt limit as a binding legal constraint that can only be raised by Congress.

Sincerely,

George W. Madison
General Counsel