A concerned citizen watching the current "budget crisis" in Washington has got to be wondering about the function or lack thereof of our federal government.
Partisan finger pointing and grandstanding has replaced the "Art of the Possible." For me, a review of how Congress and the president ought to interact is in order.
The Constitution is the authority from which all law and function flows. Article I, Sections 7 and 8 explicitly directs Congress to raise revenue and to pay all debt.
Article II provides the executive power to the president but is silent in terms of responsibility for revenue or the budget.
In 1921 however, Congress passed an act which required the president to submit a budget request for administrative functions.
The budgetary authority of the Congress was left intact. Since the Constitution was not amended, I have to wonder about the validity of this law. It has never been challenged as far as I know.
The Constitution was amended with XVI following the Civil War to address the issues of Reconstruction. In order to qualm the concerns of northern investors in the war effort, Section 4 was added. That section reads: "the validity of the public debt ... shall not be questioned." Section 5 further states: "The Congress shall have the power to enforce the provisions of this Article."
This provision has been used as a "stick" in recent times, but not invoked. There are those in the House that have stated that Articles of Impeachment would be issued against the president should it be invoked, but invoking the Constitution does not raise to the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors in my mind.
In view of these facts of law, as an independent I have to fault Congress for the lack of meeting their Constitutional authority. If there is any fault with the president, it is going beyond the powers of his office in trying to play moderator in the present fracas.
This matter is even more perplexing when one considers the "Debt Ceiling." Enacted by law in 1917 to qualm potential investors for World War I, it has never been taken seriously by Congress. In fact, it has risen exponentially since 1981.
By the time this letter is published, the budgetary dust may have settled. For me however, this charade has left a bitter taste that shall not soon pass.