The General Counsel of the Treasury Department has just sent out an email to the New York Times which seems to say definitively that Secretary Geithner believes that only Congress can raise the debt limit and has full authority to force the country into default. In other words, nothing President Obama or the Treasury can do about it.
Text after the jump …
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.
George W. Madison