Let’s say the Republican traitors refuse to raise the debt ceiling (and yes, my Republican friends, I consider that to be an act of treason against the United States for the Constitution of the United States requires you to see to it that debts of the country are paid). What does the President do then? I honestly don’t know. But Professor Eric Posner reviews the ways Obama could justify unilaterally raising the debt ceiling. Perhaps the most promising option:
[T]he president can declare an emergency and justify borrowing by citing reasons of state. What exactly he should say is a political, not legal, matter. The declaration could be garlanded with quotations from the founders, or festooned with solemn appeals to the examples of Lincoln and FDR who also acted unilaterally in the face of crisis. The president could invoke his “inherent” executive powers under Article II of the Constitution (which vests the president with mostly undefined “executive” powers); he could even cite the 14th Amendment or offer a strained interpretation of the relevant statutes or don whatever other leaves his lawyers pluck from the potted fig trees kept at the ready in the White House Counsel’s office. But whatever he says, the reality and the implication will be that the law has run out and he is acting in the common good because Congress has plunged the nation into a crisis.
But this, and any other option that Posner cites, will be the basis for Teabagger Traitors to begin Impeachment proceedings. Keith Humphries thinks that will redound to the President’s benefit:
The Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives seem willing to force the country over this financial cliff. If they succeed, President Obama will have to choose between an international financial meltdown and a stretching of the bounds of historically permissible executive action.
Kevin Drum’s prediction is that Obama will opt for the latter:
But if the debt ceiling showdown lasts more than a couple of weeks, it’s likely that President Obama will simply order the Treasury to start auctioning bonds regardless. Maybe under the authority of the 14th Amendment, maybe under his authority as commander-in-chief. Maybe he’ll declare a state of emergency of some kind. Who knows? But eventually this is how things will work out, with Obama acting because he has to, and because he knows that courts will be loathe to intervene in a political dispute between the executive and legislative branches.
If Drum is correct and Obama takes this step, the counter move that seems most likely for the Tea Party Republicans is to impeach the President on the charge of violating the Constitution. Whether that charge holds any water legally or not, an impeachment by the House would be good for grassroots fundraising and for validating the Tea Party’s conviction that Obama is not a legitimate leader of the nation.
So, what would happen if our political system continued to unravel in this fashion? I think President Obama would be unharmed and might even come out ahead. [I]f the Tea Partiers impeach President Obama, it will be hard to persuade anyone not suffering from epistemic closure that two Democratic Presidents in a row just happened to deserve impeachment. The public’s attention and attributions would shift to the radicals in the Republican ranks: Why have these people impeached every Democratic President elected in the last 20 years?
Even if they didn’t have that psychological phenomenon in their favor, the Democrats would have two huge advantages in convincing the public that an Obama impeachment case was really about the Tea Party rather than the President: Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. That’s as politically talented a pair as exists in the U.S. today, and it’s hard to think of anyone in the House of Representatives who could take them on and successfully frame an impeachment debate in the Tea Party’s preferred fashion.
Presidential impeachment would thus, like everything else the Tea Party is currently doing, be popular in their echo chamber but help convince the rest of the country that they are a dangerous and irresponsible force in U.S. politics. It’s not therefore something that Obama should fear. Indeed, he might even welcome it.
Impeachment, like this Government Shutdown or any attempt to repeal or defund or delay Obamacare or any other attempt to enact Mitt Romney’s agenda, runs into a 100 foot high wall: The U.S. Senate. I am not even sure a trial would be held in the Senate. An impeachment would be dead on arrival in the Senate, given these facts, and given the Republican’s own treason.