While the focus of attention in the new debt ceiling deal has been mainly on the creation of a “super Congress” of 12 which has higher legislative privileges than the Congress – something never envisioned by the Founders nor present in the Constitution – another part of the deal has slipped under the radar unnoticed: The process of raising the debt limit is now upside down. The Congress doesn’t approve raising the debt limit anymore; it is an executive decision by the President.
The constitutional attorney Herbert Titus explains this change in his article, “The Budget Control Act Of 2011 Violates Constitutional Order.”
In the Constitution, the power to borrow money was “inseparably connected” with the power to raise revenues. Of course, in the last 50 years the Congress has repeatedly abused these powers but nevertheless, at least on the books, there was one authority responsible for both the debt and the revenues: The Congress. Good or bad, it was our representatives who decided how much the government will spend, how much it will go in debt, and how much we will be taxed for it. In case a President wanted to raise the debt ceiling, the Congress had to approve it first before there is any raise.
But Title III of the new Act changes this process; it establishes a “Debt Ceiling Disapproval Process.” The Congress doesn’t approve a raise of the debt ceiling anymore; the President decides it unilaterally by an executive act. If the President decides that the Federal government’s debt is less than $100 billion within the limit, he can raise the limit by another $900 billion without any approval process. The Congress then has to act in order to disapprove the raising of the debt limit; and this act by the Congress, of course, is subject to the President’s veto.
This is not all. Provided the Congress fails to act – and it will, given the fact that it failed to act now when its constitutional power is taken away – the President then again can raise the debt ceiling unilaterally by another $1.2 trillion. And in fact, under certain circumstances the Secretary of the Treasury may borrow even up to $1.5 trillion.
All these are executive acts. They can be stopped only by an act of Congress, which can be vetoed by the President.
In other words, our Republican Congress just surrendered its Constitutional power to the Communist Obama.
What’s next? Well, given the experience from Libya, why not changing the rules for declaring war too? Why not have the President declare wars and the Congress only “disapprove” (provided they have a two-thirds majority to overcome the veto)? Heck, why stop there? Why not have the President declare the law by executive order, and then the Congress only disapprove . . . again, if they have a two-thirds majority? What can stop this individual overturning of the legislative process from becoming a precedent and even a complete overhaul of the legislative process in America?
This, together with the very essence of the “deal” which cuts no expenses whatsoever, and with the “super Congress” it establishes, makes the debt ceiling deal not a victory but a historic example of betrayal of the American people by their politicians. The Federal government is given a blank check, the legislative process is turned upside down, and an elite body unaccountable to no one is established to act as a buffer between the Congress and the Federal government, to make sure the Congress doesn’t give too much hard time to the Feds.
Which only means that more work needs to be done in 2012. This time against the Republican Party too.