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Can President Obama just ignore the debt limit?

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Carolyn Kaster / AP

(Read caption) President Obama speaks during a Democratic National Committee event in Philadelphia on June 30. Some economists suggest that the US must pay its debts, so Obama can ignore the debt-limit standoff in Congress.

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The debt limit standoff is getting more serious by the day. Republicans continue to insist that they won’t vote for any deal to cut the deficit and raise the debt limit ceiling that includes tax increases. Democrats continue to insist that they won’t vote for any such deal that doesn’t include some revenue enhancements.

Meanwhile, the deadline to reach a solution is fast approaching – the US will go into default on August 2, according to the Treasury.

So here’s a solution some Democrats and a few conservatives are floating – President Obama should just ignore this whole debate and order Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner to keep those debt payments flowing.

“In my view ... the president would have constitutional authority to take extraordinary measures to protect the public credit and prevent a debt default even if it means disregarding the debt limit, which is statutory law subordinate to the Constitution,” writes economist Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury official for the first President Bush, on the Capitol Gains and Games blog.


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