Let’s Play the Default Again

(to the tune of Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again”)


 We’ve been given a reprieve until February 7. Barely enough time to choke down Thanksgiving dinner and hold back on holiday spending before we’re faced with another threat of government default.

In this week’s New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg talks about Lincoln’s fears after the Civil War. While southern congressmen were out of the picture (during secession), Congress passed some of its most far-reaching legislation: a national currency, the Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad, support for higher education, and the definitive abolition of slavery.

Lincoln worried about the mischief that might occur when the southern states returned to the legislative halls. Hence the 14th Amendment:

14th AmendmentThe validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. Amendment XIV, Section 4.

Quoting Hertzberg:

“Benjamin Wade, president pro tem of the Senate, explained that the national debt would be safer once it was ‘withdrawn from the power of Congress to repudiate it.’ He and his colleagues didn’t say just that the debt could not be put off, or left unpaid. They said that it couldn’t even be questioned.” (My emphasis)

Obama should warn the minority ahead of time. Set a date. If the sledgehammer threat of default is held over another budget, that action would automatically invoke the Fourteenth Amendment.

How the 14th Amendment was ratified.

How the 14th Amendment was ratified.

3 responses »

  1. Let’s hope that Obama can “man-up” during these next challenges. I am grateful for his attempts to bring affordable health care to we who have been denied it for so long. I had my insurance rate go up to over $900 so had to drop it about 6 years ago. Of course right when I head into my late fifties/sixties when health starts to lag. of course they didn’t cover much anyway.
    This new program will allow so many folks to get coverage. Bottom line for any civilized country to provide for it’s 99%. Oh wait a minute – we’re not in Europe or Canada, or South American, or the Netherlands, or… anywhere else civilized anymore. Indeed – we are in vampireland.
    I’ll have medicare coming up for me after May, unless those stalwart Republicans think I make too much money and end it.

  2. Marylyn Motherbear Scott

    Thanks, Norma, for your outspoken viewpoint and bits of history you offer to your readers. I love your RHS metaphor! And for highlighting those vital parts of our Constitution upon which we must all

  3. The old white people might have something valuable to say.


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