Why Doesn’t Obama Invoke 31 USC 3102 to Lift the Debt Ceiling?


    According to the People’s E-Mail Network (PEN), President Obama may have another option, perhaps better than the 14th amendment, allowing him to lift the debt ceiling and cut through the current crisis contrived by the GOP.

    This option would involve the Public Debt Law of 1941, which appears in 31 USC 3101, codifying national debt limits, and states the following: “The face amount of obligations issued under this chapter and the face amount of obligations whose principal and interest are guaranteed by the United States Government (except guaranteed

    obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury) may not be more than [some particular amount] . . . ”

    The passage here that may be relevant to the current debt-ceiling debate is the one that reads “except guaranteed obligations held by the Secretary of the Treasury.”  According to the Debt Limit Law passed by Congress, such obligations may not be confined to any debt limit.

    Keeping this point in mind and then looking at the subsequent section of 31 USC 3102, which concerns bonds, we find the following passage: “With the approval of the President, the Secretary of the Treasury may borrow on the credit of the United States Government amounts

    necessary for expenditures authorized by law . . . ”

    In light of the passages just quoted from the Public Debt Law, the post from the PEN states that “Congress gives the President the EXPRESS, inherent and unilateral authority to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to incur obligations to cover all expenditures authorized by law, which is to say the sum of the appropriations bills Congress has already passed. And as . . . demonstrated[,] such obligations are immune from any so-called debt ceiling limitation.”

    Certainly, there must be someone in the White House or Congress who knows about this law.  Considering the information above, why doesn’t President Obama resolve the current debate by invoking the Public Debt Limit Law that Congress passed in 1941?  


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