SEATTLE'S MORNING NEWS

McKenna: America will not default on its debt

May 11, 2023, 4:08 PM | Updated: May 12, 2023, 8:39 am

debt default...

Former WA Attorney General Rob McKenna said that if the president does invoke the 14th Amendment, he “will be testing Congress and it could result in a court case."(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former WA state Attorney General Rob McKenna said if he were a betting man, the United States will not default on its debt.

“It’s really politically foolish of the House majority to trigger a debt default,” McKenna told Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News. “And the Supreme Court probably is not going to trigger a national debt crisis itself. I think they’re likelier to conclude that when Congress passes the budget, it’s effectively establishing a new debt ceiling.”

Ross brought up the idea of the president utilizing the 14th Amendment, where section 4 states the “validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”

“The text says that the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned,” Paul Schiff Berman, professor of law at George Washington University, told CBS News. He claimed that under a literal interpretation of the text, “if you don’t raise the debt limit, you are challenging the validity of the public debt, and so, arguably, Congress’s failure would be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.”

McKenna: SCOTUS case may lead to more power for judges

“It was never controversial. For scores of times, Congress has raised the debt limit without much comment,” McKenna said. “It was during Newt Gingrich and his time as Speaker of the House that they sort of rediscovered the debt ceiling as a way to try to have their way on the budget. And it’s what shut down the government. So the 14th Amendment has never been tested as a way to essentially declare it to be unconstitutional, which is what the president would be doing if he simply ignores it.”

McKenna said that proponents of playing the 14th Amendment card are “kind of excited” about putting it in front of the Supreme Court.

“The prediction is the majority of the court will not trigger a national debt crisis by deciding that the debt ceiling does not violate the 14th Amendment,” McKenna explained. “There’s another doctrine called Constitutional Avoidance, under which courts try to avoid deciding cases on constitutional grounds if they can find another ground to decide them. And that’s because we want to limit changes to the Constitution.”

McKenna outlined the concept that when Congress adopts the budget, it is essentially setting the debt ceiling.

“It really wasn’t until 1974, when the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was passed, that Congress really took such control over the federal budget process to the point where they just treat the president’s proposed budget as advisory. And the idea is that when they adopt the budget every year, they’re essentially setting a new debt limit. So whatever the old debt ceiling was, they are effectively amending it by adopting the new budget with its spending, since the spending exceeds the revenues that the budget also provides for.”

McKenna said that if the president does invoke the 14th Amendment, he “will be testing Congress and it could result in a court case, but he has to decide which approach he wants to take and really mean it. I think if he does, that could finally force the compromise that’s necessary to raise the debt ceiling.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Seattle's Morning News

trump shooter motive...

Dave Ross

Ross: Motive of Trump shooter not important, how he got an AR-15 is

As much as we would all like to understand the motive of the Trump shooter, I don’t see us doing much with that information.

2 days ago

kamala harris...

KIRO Newsradio staff

From the audience: Kamala Harris needs to lead next generation of Democrats

Joe Biden merely needs to hand over the reins of power to his second in command, Vice President Kamala Harris, and sooner rather than later.

8 days ago

biden...

KIRO Newsradio staff

From the audience: How my father’s age makes me scared for Joe Biden

A KIRO Newsradio listener shared his views: As I watch my dad, sometimes what I see in me – I feel it's time for Joe Biden to "let it go."

9 days ago

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Do You Have Air Conditioning?

It’s getting hot in Washington—so hot that records are being broken! Gee Scott joined SMN to discuss the heat and air conditioners. Let us know in the comments if you have AC or don’t think it’s worth it. Listen to Seattle’s Morning News w/ Dave Ross & Colleen O’Brien Show every weekday at 5am on […]

9 days ago

Image: A driver used a fake "dummy" passenger so he could drive in the HOV lane on I-405 in June 20...

Dave Ross

Dave Ross dedicates one of his hits to the commuter caught with a dummy

It happened again last month: A commuter was caught in the carpool lane with a very lifelike dummy. Although, it did not fool the police.

11 days ago

Rows of books at the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix are seen on Sept. 11, 2019....

Travis Mayfield

Mayfield: One public library is now banning kids from entering

A public library in Idaho has officially banned kids from entering. It says it is make the change due to a new state law.

11 days ago

McKenna: America will not default on its debt