Patterico's Pontifications


Geithner Spokesperson to Tribe: Hey, I Never Said I Would Use the Fourteenth Amendment to put the U.S. Deeper Into Debt!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 4:17 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

As I mentioned yesterday, Liberal Law Professor and generalized legal giant in the liberal community, Laurence Tribe published an Op-ed in the New York Times arguing that it would be unconstitutional (and stupid) of the President to ignore the debt ceiling and unilaterally place us even deeper into debt as some have suggested.

Well, today Treasury’s General Counsel George Madison sent a letter to the New York Times:

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.

So assuming that Madison is not going rogue or something, this means one of two things.  Either Tribe misinterpreted Geithner’s remarks on the subject, or Tribe interpreted them correctly and Geithner is backing off.

Either way, it is an encouraging sign that Obama will not try to usurp Congress’ powers on this subject, too.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Stengel-gate/National Constitution Center Update: We Got Mail!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:46 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

So as regular readers know, after finding fourteen clear factual errors in Richard Stengel’s June 23rd Time magazine cover story* on the Constitution, I have been on a crusade to embarrass the magazine to correct or retract that story.  I have explained that I consider its publication to be a scandal, both because it appeared as the cover story and because who the author is:

The author is not only the Managing Editor for Time, but he spent two years as President and CEO of the National Constitution Center.  And even today, he works with the National Constitution Center’s Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, whose stated mission is “to help both professional journalists and students interested in journalism understand constitutional issues more deeply.”  That is right.  He is there to help journalists understand the Constitution better.

So I wrote an email to David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, asking (1) what Stengel’s role was in the Center, (2) whether they had an official statement about this whole mess, particularly correcting Mr. Stengel’s inaccuracies.

Well, on Friday afternoon, I got this email in response:

from    David Eisner [email omitted]


date     Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM

subject Response to email

Dear Mr. Worthing,

Thank you for your email regarding Rick Stengel’s Time magazine cover article on the Constitution. As you’d imagine, the article has stirred up a lot of thoughts from people who care deeply about the Constitution, many critical and many supportive.  I’m sure you’re aware that the issues you raise go to the center of many of the most important current debates around how we view the Constitution.

We’re working to bring some of those thoughts and issues together and will share them on our blog in the coming days.


David E

David Eisner

President and CEO

National Constitution Center

“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Now that seems to be saying, “we’re working on a response.”  Also, reader Ken Weibe wrote to them as well and got this response:


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