The 14th Amendment and the Debt Ceiling

Desperate times call for desperate ideas. Some folks are now arguing that section 4 of the 14th Amendment, stating that “[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law…shall not be questioned,” gives the President executive authority to act unilaterally in raising the debt ceiling. Not knowing what to think when I first heard this idea from a friend today, I did my best impersonation of a real scholar (i.e., I took to the intertoobz). It didn’t take long to find the answer, and the answer is unequivocally, “NO.”

First, the background. Here’s the full version of section 4:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

That section of the 14th Amendment was intended to ensure a) that if post-Civil War southerners took control of Congress they wouldn’t repudiate the debt incurred in the process of kicking their asses,* nor try to cover the south’s costs of trying to break away.*

But as legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin** notes in his pro-executive power argument, we don’t interpret the Constitution just by the case that stimulated an amendment, but by the general principles embodied by its clauses. And so he argues the 14th Amendment does confer an executive power to ensure we make our debt payments, and that Congress is acting unconstitutionally by causing the debt not to be paid.

The general contours of that fundamental principle seem clear enough. Congress does not have authority, even by a substantial majority, to dishonor the nation by repudiating outstanding debts it has authorized the nation to incur. The fiscal integrity of the United States is sacred and requires constitutional protection…

[T]he Republican majority in the House now refuses to permit the country to meet debts duly authorized in the past that remain duly authorized now, unless the Democrats and the President agree to a radical reduction in essential public services that they would never otherwise accept. That is playing blackmail with the nation’s honor. It threatens exactly the kind of forced default that the principle behind the debt clause declares it has no authority to inflict. I believe the best, principled, interpretation of the clause gives the president authority to ignore that blackmail and to borrow enough to meet the nation’s standing legal obligations.

This argument is pretty weak, constitutionally. First, even if the Constitution absolutely requires the ensurance of the fiscal integrity of the United States, nothing in that section references the President even by the most vague allusion. Maybe our fiscal integrity is constitutionally sacred, but nothing says that the responsibility or authority for it fall to the executive.

Second, even if the fiscal integrity of the country is constitutionally sacred and the authority to ensure that is an executive power, the President has a clear path toward accomplishing that without overriding Congress; he can accede to their terms. Sure they’re blackmailing him legislatively, but the Constitution does not prohibit hardball politics. So Dworkin is arguing that the Constitution gives the President to ignore statutes if Congress digs in its heels and a constitutional violation looms? That’s a fairly novel legal argument, I believe.

And here’s what’s missing from Dworkin’s argument–any actual reference to well-established principles of constitutional analysis, or reference to any other relevant aspects of the Constitution itself.

Contrast that with the Con argument of another American legal giant, Erwin Chemerinsky.***

Unfortunately, there is no plausible way to read this provision as providing the president the ability to increase the debt ceiling without congressional action.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says that it is Congress that has the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States.” The Constitution thus could not be clearer that borrowing money requires congressional action. Nothing in Section 4 of the 14th Amendment takes this power away from Congress or assigns it to the president…

The power of the purse — including the authority to tax, spend and borrow — is quintessentially legislative. Not even a dire financial emergency would allow the president to take this over. The Constitution, thankfully, has no provision allowing for its suspension even in times of crisis.

Moreover, the debt ceiling is set by statute. Unless this law is unconstitutional, which it obviously isn’t, the president cannot unilaterally repeal it and replace it with another law setting a higher debt ceiling.

Historical practice also matters in interpreting the Constitution. On many occasions, the Supreme Court has said that a long, unbroken tradition is given great weight in determining the Constitution’s meaning. As the court often has said, “History has placed a gloss on the Constitution.” Throughout American history, the debt ceiling always has been set and raised by statute, not executive decision-making.

I think that’s game, set, and match. If I was Obama’s legal counsel, one of these arguments would have me sweating bullets before the Supreme Court, while the other would have me enthusiastically bouncing up the steps of the Marble Temple.

From a pure political perspective, however, if I were the President I’d be tempted to do it unilaterally anyway, if necessary. I’d just order the Secretary of the Treasury to continue offering securities and tell the country I regretted having to act unilaterally, but a tiny group of crazes lunatics was holding Congress and the Country hostage. Some Republicans have already threatened to impeach him if he does, but how serious is that threat? If, and it’s a big if, the Republicans in the House could actually pass a bill of impeachment (it would take 218 of the 242 Republicans in the House), the Senate wouldn’t conceivably convict. And the public relations loss would be every bit as bad as with the Clinton impeachment. I had a third-grade teacher who used to say, “thirty lashes with a wet noodle.” That just made us giggle, but it was still more frightening than this presumptive threat of impeachment.

__________________________________________________________________
* With the benefit of knowing how the south has turned out a century and a half later, I come more and more to think the money spend on keeping them in the union was a classic government boondoggle. Instead of spending that money on keeping them in the union, we would have better spent it on helping them go away. Think of what a lovely border fence we could have built along the Mason-Dixon line for the cost of the war, or how many slaves we could have bought (or simply rescued surreptitiously) and set free. This rough estimate suggests that would have been far more cost-effective. It appears the south had $4 billion worth of slaves. Sure, prices would have risen dramatically as the southern supply dwindled, but considering all the lives saved, the savings from not disrupting the economy by taking over 3 1/2 million men out of the labor force, etc., etc. Sure, the north would have faced some economic disruption from adding a couple million mostly unskilled laborers (counting only the men, and assuming they were roughly half the slave population). The biggest cost would probably have been increased racial tensions in the north, but we would have been rid of the south! That’s of incalculable value.

** Author of the vastly influential Taking Rights Seriously. His argument here has nothing to do with rights, but Dworkin’s no simplistic foil. He’s a giant in the legal field.

*** Perhaps best-known for his outstanding critical assessment of the Supreme Court in the Reagan era, “The Vanishing Constitution.”

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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23 Responses to The 14th Amendment and the Debt Ceiling

  1. Pinky says:

    U. S. Constitution
    14th Amendment
    Section. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void. (my emphasis)
    As everyone knows, the U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of The Land.
    Most everyone knows that the executive branch of our federal government, that is, The President, is responsible to promulgate and execute the law.
    In simple words, the president has the authority to raise the debt limit in order to pay the obligations of government. It is against the U.S. Constitution to question that responsibility. Presently, the Congress may be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
    We shall see what happens when push finally comes to shove and both houses have not agreed on a bill to raise the debt limit.
    I expect the executive will execute the Law despite the debt limit which, itself, might unconstitutional as it poses a question in effect challenging the constitutionality of the U. S. paying its bills under authority of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If all else fails, that is.
    But, maybe I’m wrong…

  2. D. C. Sessions says:

    The so-called “14th Amendment solution” is, indeed, lame — and not only for the reasons you cite.

    Another is that it’s not necessary. The debt ceiling, at this time, conflicts with the appropriations made by Congress over the past several years. When two statutes come into conflict, the more recent prevails — and that means that if the Administration has to choose between violating the law by blowing through the debt ceiling and violating the law by failing to disburse funds authorized by Congress, it is required to disburse those funds.

    Or it will be, right up until we get a short-term debt extension. At that point, the debt limit takes precedence. The Administration, in other words, has been fighting to tie its own hands.

    Finally, as I think you’ve seen me comment previously, there is a very great deal more to be gained by the Administration playing this one humbly. Go to the bully pulpit and announce to the American people that the United States is a nation of laws, and that those laws are binding on the Administration most of all. That, therefore, when the Government runs out of borrowing authority it will (as dictated by the 14th) give precedence to servicing the existing debt. Lacking legal authority to otherwise pick and choose, the Treasury will then disburse funds equally pro-rated by available revenues.

    I give two weeks, max, before Congress bows to the shitstorm that comes their way from all of those people who want small government as long as their Social Security, Medicare, Veteran’s Administration, Agriculture, etc. checks keep coming. And after that, I suspect that the lesson will last at least until the 2012 elections.

  3. Michael Heath says:

    Erwin Chereminsky:

    Moreover, the debt ceiling is set by statute. Unless this law is unconstitutional, which it obviously isn’t, the president cannot unilaterally repeal it and replace it with another law setting a higher debt ceiling.

    It is not obvious to me this statue is constitutional.

    Laurence Tribe made an argument the 14th Amendment doesn’t delegate powers to the executive to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. His NYTs opinion piece also has him arguing such an action would also be bad policy. Cite: http://goo.gl/5xdO5

  4. Pinky says:

    1.. Laurence Tribe made an argument the 14th Amendment doesn’t delegate powers to the executive to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
    Be that as it may be, it does establish the requirement for paying the bills and that it is unconstitutional to question such. That the executive branch is required to pay the bills requires the congress to come up with the money. Not to come up with the money is a default on the part of congress–not of the executive. Will the checks the president writes bounce?.

    2. [Tribe’s] NYTs opinion piece also has him arguing such an action would also be bad policy.
    Of course it’s bad policy as it sets up the stage for more controversy and all the political strategists know that is the case. But, on the other hand, it will force an issue for the Supreme Court to act on the problem with which we are faced. And, it also helps open the door to a pay-as-we-go law. It was unconscionable for G.W. Bush to have started a war and signed a prescription bill into law neither of which were funded by any revenue source–extremely bad policy.

  5. ppnl says:

    Well I think the president has already rejected unilaterally raising the debt ceiling. But what if he shuts down parts of the government in order to pay debt? Then we just have a government shutdown like when they can’t agree on a budget.

    Also what if the president takes congress to court to have their refusal to raise the debt ceiling declared unconstitutional? Then the courts could order congress to either borrow the money or stop spending. The court could then either authorize the president to do a government shutdown or authorize the president to borrow money until congress decides what it wants to do.

    Remember, gridlock is good. We elect idiots just so we can guarantee gridlock.

  6. Michael Heath says:

    ppnl:

    Well I think the president has already rejected unilaterally raising the debt ceiling. But what if he shuts down parts of the government in order to pay debt? Then we just have a government shutdown like when they can’t agree on a budget.

    Actually the Financial Times [1] reported the Treasury Dept. asserting that the federal government stopping payment on many of its obligations beyond its debt service obligations constitutes a default. I’m not surprised by this given the fact lending agreements typically have clauses where certain failures by the borrower result in a default to the lender since many failures to act as expected both increases risk and decreases the asset held by the lender. This sort of clause therefore serves as a trigger to allow prescribed mitigation actions by the lender given the failure by the borrower.

    1) IIRC it was this article, which is now behind a paywall: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f9ae9aa0-b92b-11e0-bd87-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1TUQbGi7O

  7. Pinky says:

    Maybe the debt ceiling itself can be seen as a challenge to the 14th Amendment.
    .
    Does not authorizing expenditures without providing a revenue source amount to a questioning in the amendment’s sense?

    I’m thinking this is a political can of worms.

  8. D.A. Ridgely says:

    I think you’re correct, Mr. Hanley, in the odd sense one can be correct about a constitutional question. Certainly, the power of the purse strings is quintessentially a legislative power and — remember Iran-Contra — one Congress is actually willing to fight to retain even in this age of the so-called Imperial Presidency.

    But, just as I’m not sure how the Supreme Court would rule if, for example, the constitutionality of the War Powers Act were ever actually before the Court I’m not as confident here as I was at first.

    As you, I’m sure, know, one of the things that makes the notion of separation of powers work is the great reluctance of any branch to push too hard at the ambiguous seams. So, for example, there has never been a serious challenge to any Supreme Court ruling the effect of which was to increase federal spending under the argument that separation of powers deny the Court such authority. And yet if you think about it, it’s not a bad argument.

    Moreover, I doubt anyone questions that if the Court did somehow rule that Congress’ failure to raise the debt ceiling or otherwise take action to preserve the integrity of the national debt was unconstitutional, Congress would acquiesce to the ruling even though, again, the net effect would be the judicial Branch directing the legislative branch to spend, tax and / or borrow despite the legislative branch’s otherwise exclusive authority. So I find myself a bit on the fence here.

    Here, by the way, is a worthwhile link regarding, among other arcane points, the difference between debt ceiling issues and the more routine appropriations and authorizations process of fiscal law: (Why, for example, federal agencies aren’t now making contingency plans to shut down.)

    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2011/07/hennessey_on_th.html

    I agree with Hennessey both that Congress will take action if only so it can recess and, in any case, the federal government would withhold payments to the states (and probably contractors) long before failing to service it’s debts.

    Also, I note with amusement the New York Times is now reporting that no one really cares all that much about whether Standard & Poor or other ratings agencies “downgrade” the federal government’s credit rating.

    What fun times we live in!

  9. James K says:

    There’s another problem with the President ordering more debt issued. Since there’s be a constitutional question over whether the debt was legally issued, there would be some chance it would later be ruled illegal and dishonoured. So the new debt would carry an extra chunk of default risk in it. That means it would sell at a steeper discount than normal US government bonds.

    Second, even if the fiscal integrity of the country is constitutionally sacred and the authority to ensure that is an executive power, the President has a clear path toward accomplishing that without overriding Congress; he can accede to their terms.

    He could also just direct the Treasury to keep paying the interest on debt, and divert money away from other activities. It would seem the 14th Amendment would give him good legal grounds to do so.

  10. Michael Heath says:

    James K:He could also just direct the Treasury to keep paying the interest on debt, and divert money away from other activities. It would seem the 14th Amendment would give him good legal grounds to do so.

    Perhaps, but as I noted before the Treasury believes stopping payment on certain scheduled payables will result in a default even if interest payments are kept up. In addition I believe I’ve a seen a schedule of payables that requires the payment of bonds in early-August which will mature; any failure to pay those would absolutely result in default.

  11. Pinky says:

    I can’t imagine that the rotters we elect to congress are able to realize that this game of chicken they’re playing could lead to a super important greater discussion about the unfunded acts of government..
    .After all is said and done, we are an enormously wealthy nation with the ability to afford far greater benefits than we now enjoy (struggle?). It’s all a matter of a reform in our tax laws.

  12. D. C. Sessions says:

    I can’t imagine that the rotters we elect to congress are able to realize that this game of chicken they’re playing could lead to a super important greater discussion about the unfunded acts of government..

    Pinky, that would (among other things) first require that we could agree on some common facts. You know, like whether or not the American economy and public are being crushed by intolerable levels of taxation. Or whether the USA has the greatest health care system ever seen in human history. Or whether our very survival depends on rapidly growing out military capabilities. Or whether the majority of our tax money goes to foreign aid. Or whether Reagan’s tax cuts caused the greatest era of prosperity the world has ever known. Or whether the Founders wrote a Constitution whose primary function is to create the perfect Christian nation. Or whether the 50% of the population below the median income are worthless parasites sucking the lifeblood from the John Galts of the country, who do all of the worthwhile work.

    Once we have some common facts established, we can get into more challenging country. Like, should infrastructure like streets, water, and sewer systems be publicly or privately owned? Is child labor a key to our national future? How much mercury is necessary for good health?

  13. Pinky says:

    1. Discussion is brought about due to some emergent idea.
    2. Open discussion relies on people with the ability to deal with the issues regardless of their bias one way or the other.
    3. Good discussions are neither top down nor bottom up; but, involve vigorous interactions between publics and their institutions.
    4. Democracy is an ever evolving form of self government.

  14. ppnl says:

    Perhaps, but as I noted before the Treasury believes stopping payment on certain scheduled payables will result in a default even if interest payments are kept up.

    Well yes but stopping payment on other things clearly will not result in a default. What we have then is a government shut down that in the short run is no different from the shutdowns caused by failure to pass a budget.

  15. Michael Heath says:

    Me earlier:
    Perhaps, but as I noted before the Treasury believes stopping payment on certain scheduled payables will result in a default even if interest payments are kept up.

    ppnl:
    Well yes but stopping payment on other things clearly will not result in a default. What we have then is a government shut down that in the short run is no different from the shutdowns caused by failure to pass a budget.

    No and no. Here’s the fact sheet from the Treasury Dept., the very first “Myth vs. Fact” is relevant:

    Myth:
    If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, the consequences would not be any
    worse than the effects of a government shutdown.

    Fact:
    If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, the government would default on its
    legal obligations – an event unprecedented in American history. This would cause
    investors here and around the world to doubt, for the first time, whether the
    United States will meet its commitments. That would precipitate a self-inflicted
    financial crisis potentially more severe than the one from which we are now
    recovering.

    I described why in an earlier post in this thread.

    Cite [PDF]: http://goo.gl/ntHkv

    That PDF file can be found here, the link is titled “Debt Limit: Myth v. Fact” [1st link in the body of the page]: http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/Pages/debtlimit.aspx

  16. D. C. Sessions says:

    Michael, they’re defining “default” to avoid backpedaling on their prior statements that a failure to timely raise the debt ceiling would lead to default.

    Let us, at the least, distinguish between defaulting on debts and defaulting on obligations other than debt service. In all of the discussions on bond rates and the 14th Amendment, the assumption has been that “default” meant on debts. I’m delighted to have them save face on this, not least because it signals to me that they are planning to do something vaguely like what I have been advocating.

    Now all they have to do to really impress me is keep the “prioritization” to a minimum. Pro-rated would be great, but first-in-first-out works OK too. The key things are that they don’t pick favorites so that the pain is widely distributed and that they keep from appearing to have any fingerprints on the problem.

    This ping-pong game between the House and the Senate is just fine in that regard; it doesn’t look to have an endpoint under the current constraints. Since the fecal matter is approaching the rotary air circulation device, the American public is about to have a very smelly lesson on balanced budgets, and especially on sudden austerity in a depressed economy.

  17. Michael Heath says:

    D.C. Sessions:Michael, they’re defining “default” to avoid backpedaling on their prior statements that a failure to timely raise the debt ceiling would lead to default.
    Let us, at the least, distinguish between defaulting on debts and defaulting on obligations other than debt service.Michael, they’re defining “default” to avoid backpedaling on their prior statements that a failure to timely raise the debt ceiling would lead to default.
    Let us, at the least, distinguish between defaulting on debts and defaulting on obligations other than debt service.

    While IANAL, my understanding of the legal term for default is that the Treasury is consistent in noting it goes into default when it fails to perform on its legal obligations with how commercial agreements are structured. The same Treasury file source I referenced earlier states:
    MYTH: Passing legislation to “prioritize” payments on the national debt above other legal
    obligations would allow the government to avoid a default without increasing the
    debt limit.

    FACT:Legislation to “prioritize” payments would simply represent default by another
    name.

    It expands on this point below the “FACT” section:
    Suggestions that Congress could somehow evade responsibility for raising the debt limit by
    passing legislation to “prioritize” payments on the national debt above other legal obligations of
    the United States are simply not true. This would not prevent default, since it would seek to
    protect only principal and interest payments and not other legal obligations of the United States
    from non-payment. Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over
    other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would
    recognize it as a failure by the United States to stand behind its commitments. It would therefore
    bring about the same catastrophic economic consequences.

    I think differentiating the difference misses the larger point which I pointed out earlier. By going into default on its obligations other than its debt service payables, that failure immediately increases the risk and decreases the value of its outstanding debt to current bondholders, why is that not a default? One could even argue that posturing that one might go into default to the point the government’s credit rating is reduced is a type of effective default (and perhaps also an actual one though without looking at the terms we don’t know). Lenders would certainly want terms to protect their assets (bonds and T-bills) with this sort of failure. That’s why lenders in at least commercial debt have default terms beyond mere timely payment. I’m not completely sure that’s true here but I assume it’s the same given that the Treasury Dept. is expressing both the very same principle is applicable and predicting the very same result.

  18. James Hanley says:

    Pinky, the executive branch of our federal government, that is, The President, is responsible to promulgate and execute the law. In simple words, the president has the authority to raise the debt limit in order to pay the obligations of government.

    It’s not that straightforward. We have two conflicting laws. If the president has a way of executing one without violating the other, that is the action he must take. And a president does not have the authority to exercise the law if the means of doing so are not in fact given to him, either constitutionally or statutorily. And that is precisely what is at question here.

    It is against the U.S. Constitution to question that responsibility. Presently, the Congress may be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    I can’t agree. While Congress is risking debt default it is not actually questioning the validity of our debts. It is, rather, seeking to restructure our budgetary commitments so as to reduce the amount of debt. I doubt you can find any congressman who is arguing that we should not pay our debts.

    Michael Heath, It is not obvious to me this statue is constitutional.

    I can’t begin to imagine what might be unconstitutional about it.

    Re: The Treasury Department argument. It sounds like a political argument designed to put further pressure on Congress by undercutting the argument of some conservatives that the President can avoid default by delaying expenditures on discretionary spending. While doing so may not be wise, and is possibly illegal, it goes against the standard understanding of default. There is a distinction between previously incurred debt and non-debt obligations–the Treasury is arguing that distinction is not relevant to the concept of default, but I don’t find that persuasive. Remember, the Treasury Department is both technocratic and political, so it’s never safe to assume anything they say is untinged with politics. And in a situation like this, where the President needs to marshal every available resource against his opponents, directing his SecTres to promulgate a politically persuasive argument is par for the course.

    But I am intrigued, on political grounds, about the argument that purchases of U.S. securities would be scared off by delays in obligations payments. That should only happen if they see those delays as signalling a likelihood that they will also be stiffed. Would they in fact interpret it that way, rather than being reassured by the government signaling that they have priority and will be paid even if nobody else is? I’m no investor, so I can’t pretend to know, but I think that is the relevant question. You say it does, but I’m not sure why. In the case of loaning to a business I can see why, but it seems to me–at least superficially–that this is a case where government is quite different from a business.

    Anyway, the argument that “increas[ing] the risk and decreas[ing] the value of its outstanding debt to current bondholders,” is not necessarily default. Certainly increasing the risk isn’t, as long as that debt ultimately is paid. Decreasing the value of it might be, but I’m not sure how the value of current debt is decreased except by the argument that there is no premium increase to go along with increased risk. But I don’t buy that (at least tentatively). Caveat emptor has some significance here–the investors made their bet, and if in hindsight they wish they would have demanded better odds, I don’t think that in itself constitutes default.

  19. James Hanley says:

    ppnl, Also what if the president takes congress to court to have their refusal to raise the debt ceiling declared unconstitutional? Then the courts could order congress to either borrow the money or stop spending.

    I’m not so sure about that, but it brings up important questions so I’m promoting the question (well, my response, really) to post status.

  20. AMW says:

    I have nothing substantive to say about the main thrust of the post, so I’ll comment on your first footnote. It would have done no good to try to buy up all the slaves in the South and set them free for the simple reason that Southern slavery wasn’t a closed system. With a mammoth buyer in the North offering to purchase any slave it could the South would have massive incentives to import more slaves from Africa, kidnap free blacks from the North, and even go into cahoots with free blacks by having them pose as slaves, get purchased, split the proceeds, lather, rinse and repeat.

    In an open system buyers can’t eliminate the market by buying.

  21. AMW says:

    As an afterthought, though, allowing the South to secede would have eliminated the obligation of northern states to return fugitive slaves (except to slave states that stayed in the union). That would have effectively brought the Canadian border several hundred miles south; making it easier for escapees to find freedom.

  22. James Hanley says:

    AMW,

    he South would have massive incentives to import more slaves from Africa
    Not long after that the English navy began pursuing slavers. I suppose the North could have done likewise–we’d just have to add that into the cost side of the equation.

    even go into cahoots with free blacks by having them pose as slaves, get purchased, split the proceeds, lather, rinse and repeat.
    And there’s the value of an effective bureaucracy with a good record-keeping system!

    kidnap free blacks from the North
    My proposed border fence would minimize that problem. That and profiling of anyone with a southern accent and a sunburn.

  23. It’s not that straightforward.
    .
    You’re correct. I have rethought my original sense and realize it’s not as simple as I thought.
    But, my thought is basically correct in that the president can order payment on the bills. Congress must allocate the funds. The legislature cannot challenge the demand for payment.
    .

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