What Richard Nixon, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden Have In Common In This Stupid Debt-Ceiling Mess
Presidents don't have power of the purse. To Nixon and Trump, that was a huge frustration. To Biden, it may provide deliverance.
A latex Halloween mask of the 37th president, available for purchase here.
One of the better pieces ever published on this site was Thomas Geoghegan’s “That Time I Ran For Congress,” an excerpt from his book The History of Democracy Has Yet To Be Written. Tom and I became friends in 1999 after I praised his second book, The Secret Lives of Citizens, in The Washington Monthly. Tom has a voice that’s unique among public-policy writers. The Citizens book, I wrote, “delivers its political and economic arguments with lyricism and a certain amount of humorous whining. If the monologist Spaulding Gray were a Washington policy wonk, this is what he would sound like.”
Tom and I had many friends in common, and even before we met I’d been following his work for years in The New Republic (where he was a staff writer in the early 1970s, and continues to contribute to this day) and in his previous book, Which Side Are You On, about his experiences as an attorney representing labor unions. A sequel of sorts, Only One Thing Can Save Us, is well worth reading, too. You really can’t go wrong reading any of Tom’s books; he’s been an enormous influence on me.
Tom’s latest opus is a collaboration with three other attorneys and the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE). (I’m sure there are uncredited coauthors as well.) It’s not a book or magazine article but a lawsuit filed against President Joe Biden and Janet Yellen. NAGE endorsed Biden’s 2024 bid a mere nine days ago, and NAGE was the second national union to endorse Biden for 2020. Some might say that suing your guy is a bizarre way to show affection. But the lawsuit approaches the debt ceiling problem from a unique angle that calls to mind President Richard Nixon’s impoundment fight with Congress in 1973 and President Donald Trump’s later 2019 impeachment over, in part, withholding Ukraine military aid to goad its president into investigating Hunter Biden. NAGE’s lawsuit makes a creative and, to me, quite persuasive argument that in paying even the slightest attention to the idiot debt ceiling Biden is violating the separation of powers. You can read my New Republic piece about this here.
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Thanks for reporting about this creatively direct and surprisingly obvious alternative to the 14th Amendment as a response to McCarthy's imprecise commitment to debt reduction...
... though there is this additional item that does explain his "plan" a bit more: