Cold Water on the "Constitutional Option"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 7 2011 1:36 PM

Cold Water on the "Constitutional Option"

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Those who think the president can say that the 14th Amendment allows the government to keep creating debt beyond the debt limit were dealt a blow just now, when Barney Frank derided the idea in a hearing called by Democrats.

"I think it would cause a great crisis in our democracy" if debt was created without a rise in the debt limit, Frank told economist Bruce Bartlett, a former Republican who has been talking up the "constitutional option." Frank simply didn't see a way for this to work, and warned of political disaster.

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"The anger in the country, the political bitterness and the vitriol, would be amplified," he said, "and you'd let people off the hook for their irresponsibility."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.