The high-stakes battle over the fiscal slope has detoured into a high-stakes battle over the government’s debt limit. Seeing little hope of forestalling rises top-level tax rates, Republicans have discussed a plan to relent on that and then move directly to a debt limit showdown, where they have the advantage because of the need to have Congress act affirmatively to hike that borrowing capacity.
The President has gathered business leaders to press the case that the debt limit must be extended, and he has said he will simply not negotiate over it. However, the White House did give up significant leverage on this question yesterday, with spokesman Jay Carney saying that the President will not use the 14th Amendment’s language about how the validity of the public debt “shall not be questioned” to essentially supersede the debt limit. Carney said the President does not believe he has the power under the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt limit.