Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
For most of his term, Barack Obama has been flirting with impeachment like Bill Clinton at a sorority on open bar night, but he may be set to go too far even by Washington’s standards. Administration officials suggested if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the president may (wrongly) invoke the 14th Amendment to force the nation to borrow money. Last Tuesday Rep. Tim Scott, R-SC, said such an overreach of executive power would be “an impeachable act,” and the next day Texas Republican Pete Olson said Scott is “not a lonely voice.” Although Timothy Geithner backed down by week’s end, it is not clear that his scheme — or the equally unconstitutional compromise Mitch McConnell offered — will not rise again, provoking a constitutional crisis. Even David Frum, the most assertive voice of Republican liberalization, has concluded House Republicans will at least rumble about impeaching Obama if he blatantly violates the Constitution. Flummoxed at the possibility, he has advised Republicans to shut up and raise the debt ceiling to prevent Obama from having to commit an impeachable offense.
Frum proffered his bizarre advice in an article published on his eponymous FrumForum entitled, “Can the Debt Crisis Lead to Impeachment?”
Frum correctly noted, “The debt-ceiling crisis is growing into an impending constitutional crisis.” He is far from alone in assessing the severity of Obama’s threatened actions. Stan Collender wrote last Tuesday, “A number of people I communicated with this past week thought that the president invoking the 14th Amendment to justify federal borrowing would lead to impeachment proceedings in the House, even if there is little chance that the Senate would ever vote to convict.” Georgetown Law School professor Louis Michael Seidman, who supports the president’s right to unilaterally borrow money in theory, has warned, “There would be a constitutional crisis.” Matthew Vadum of The American Spectator agreed this would be one of Obama’s many impeachable offenses.