Why Biden should 'think carefully' before 'snatching' Republicans’ debt ceiling 'grenade': columnist

Why Biden should 'think carefully' before 'snatching' Republicans’ debt ceiling 'grenade': columnist
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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sounded the alarm during a closed-door meeting with top Wall Street bankers on May 18, warning that the U.S. will suffer a severe economic crisis if it defaults on its debt obligations. Yellen is hoping that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (D-California) will be able to work out some type of budget agreement soon, but talks haven't been going well.

Journalist Ezra Klein, in an op-ed published by the New York Times on May 21, is vehemently critical of the way Republicans are handling this looming economic crisis but is also skeptical about some "unconventional tactics" that are "proving particularly popular in the liberal imagination."

Klein observes, "In one, President Biden simply declares the debt ceiling unconstitutional, pointing to the 14th Amendment, which holds that 'the validity of the public debt of the United States.… shall not be questioned'…. In the other, the Treasury Department uses a loophole in a 1997 law to mint a platinum coin of any value it chooses — a trillion dollars, say — and uses the new money to keep paying the government's debts."

READ MORE: How McCarthy could be kicked out of speaker chair in debt ceiling battle

The journalist stresses, however, that the "legality of the debt ceiling or a trillion-dollar platinum coin doesn't depend on how liberals read the Constitution," but rather, on what conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices think.

Klein argues, "It's easy enough to come up with counterarguments that conservative justices are likely to find persuasive…. The coin gambit is similarly easy to poke holes in if one wants to…. If the (Biden) Administration declares the debt ceiling unconstitutional, only to have the Supreme Court declare the maneuver unconstitutional, then Biden owns the market chaos that would follow."

Klein fears that voters could blame Biden if GOP recklessness leads to an economic downturn.

"Republicans are the ones threatening default if their demands are not met," the journalist writes. "They are pulling the pin on this grenade, in full view of the American people. Biden should think carefully before taking the risk of snatching it out of their hands and holding it himself."

READ MORE: 'Threatening your paycheck': Chris Murphy nails Republicans' 'unserious' debt ceiling brinksmanship

Find Ezra Klein's entire New York Times op-ed at this link (subscription needed).

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