While the deal crafted Wednesday appears to have taken the risk of default off the table for now, the threat of the debt ceiling proved that Tea Party Republicans will look for any reason to impeach President Obama.
Sarah Palin made the suggestion this week in a Facebook post in which she warned, “Defaulting on our national debt is an impeachable offense.”
“There is no way we can default if we follow the Constitution,” she wrote. “The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, requires that we service our debt first. We currently collect more than enough tax revenue to service our debt if we do that first. However, we don’t have enough money to continue to finance our ever-growing federal government.”
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert quickly joined the chorus of default-focused impeachers.
“If the president instructs the treasury secretary that–though the money is there to pay interest–if he instructs him to default, I think we’re getting close to a high crime and misdemeanor,” Gohmert said in an interview on Fox News.
If Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling–today or in the future–that could force the president to break one of the following laws, as Morgan Stanley’s Vincent Reinhart explained in an interview with Business Insider.
- The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 that establishes the debt ceiling;
- The Federal Reserve Act that prohibits the Fed from lending directly to the Treasury; or,
- The 14th Amendment of the Constitution that holds that the debt of the US government, lawfully issued, will not be questioned.
Other solutions have been proposed, so it’s possible the president could find his way through the legally murky territory, but for the crowd who salivates at the prospect of impeaching the president, any possiblity to use the i-word can’t be passed up.
MaddowBlog’s Steve Benen has catalogued the long list of reasons conservatives have suggested for impeaching Obama, ranging from the ridiculous (his birth certificate) to the absurd (for not extending the Bush tax cuts).
However, there’s not much evidence that impeaching President Obama would be a political win for the GOP. Republicans have been hand-wringing over their recent drop in the polls, including the Gallup poll that showed the party’s favorability sunk to a record low of 28%, but impeachment pursuits have been comparably damaging. The last time the GOP’s approval dropped so low was in 1999. In the months after Republicans launched their campaign to impeach President Clinton, the Republican party’s favorability dropped to 31%. Who knows how low it could go with the one-two punch of impeachment and default.
If history is any indicator, impeachment might help out Obama; Clinton saw his approval rating increase during the impeachment.
The last minute deal may mean Gohmert–and the slew of other Republicans who are dreaming of impeaching Obama–won’t get their chance today. But the short-term nature of that deal means it might make it simply a dream deferred. Once we hit the next deadline–likely in early February–we already know what to expect from the likes of Palin.
But in the meantime, we can expect to hear other impeachment ideas, including the one floated by Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst recently. He told a Tea Party event covered by the Texas Observer this week that President Obama deserves to be impeached over Benghazi and other non-specific ways in which he “trampled” over American liberities.