At some point, the President is just gonna have to do the right thing and stop playing footsie with disingenuous, bad faith Republicans who are holding the nation's economy hostage over the unconstitutional debt limit law. Also, the Democratic Governor in Arizona has some splainin' to do on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
After a bit of breaking news at the top of the show (regarding a breakthrough agreement on water sharing between Western states on the drought-stricken Colorado River, and E. Jean Carroll suing Trump yet again for defaming her yet again), it's onto the dangerous negotiations still taking place, for some reason, between the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over whether or not the U.S. will follow the law and pay its bills or go into default for the first time in the nation's history.
We're joined today by investigative financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN. He has been reporting on a lawsuit recently filed by the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) against President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, charging that they are already violating the law by "suspending investments into...employee retirement plans" as part of Yellen's so-called "extraordinary measures" to avoid hitting the arbitrary borrowing limit implemented by Congress. She has said that those measure will run out as early as June 1, before the U.S. won't be able to pay all of its bills without borrowing more money. "There is active and ongoing harm which will get worse if the ceiling is hit," the NAGE suit alleges.
At the same time, as listeners may know, we've been covering the text of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment which states in clear language: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts ... shall not be questioned." While Biden has made clear he is aware of the Constitutional option, he has said (not necessarily correctly) that invoking the 14th Amendment to follow the law by ordering the Treasury Department to continue borrowing to keep paying all of our bills would have to be litigated. That, he suggests, would take too much time to be adjudicated in court in order to avoid an upcoming debt default. Thus, he has been negotiating with McCarthy to find an agreement that McCarthy, as Dayen points out today, is unlikely to be able to even get his own caucus to agree to vote for.
With all of that in mind, and NAGE having filed for an emergency injunction in their lawsuit late last week, Biden and Yellen now have until June 6 to respond to the suit. Dayen points out, in both his X-DATE newsletter today and on our program, that Biden/Yellen merely need to respond to the suit by saying they agree with the plaintiffs suing them. The federal judge will then have no choice but to find in favor of NAGE, ruling that the President cannot pick and choose which bills will or won't be paid and that the 14th Amendment likely makes the Debt Ceiling law unconstitutional.
Problem solved! At least if Biden and the White House finally take this golden opportunity that has been handed to them. Sure, there are some nuances, as we discuss with Dayen, but, in general, Biden could use this to end the standoff in short order, before a global financial catastrophe --- which will only increase the U.S. deficit that Republicans in the House are only now pretending to give a damn about --- comes crashing down as early as next week.
"Here's your chance, Joe," says Dayen. "You have to write a response in this active litigation, and what you can say is 'I agree, and I am not going to contest this lawsuit.'" Once the judge receives that, Dayen explains, he'll have to say, "'Okay, I've got two sides in this lawsuit. One side says the debt ceiling is unconstitutional, and the other says it, too.' Presumably, the outcome, the ruling, would be that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. Who would appeal it? There are two parties in this case, and neither are House Republicans."
ALSO TODAY: Last week on the show we spoke with Arizona's former Republican Secretary of State, now state Senator Ken Bennett, about a bipartisan bill passed out of the state's legislature last week to greatly improve election oversight, transparency and security by making digital ballot images of every ballot cast available for anyone to download and count for themselves in their own home if they wish. (A ballot image is a digital photo of each ballot that is taken as the ballot is scanned by the computer tabulators. It shows exactly how the voter voted at the time the ballot was cast and counted.)
The landmark measure, HB2560 --- which would make it much more difficult for the MAGA right to falsely claim elections are stolen --- was sponsored by Bennett in the AZ legislature and supported by the state's current Democratic Sec. of State Adrian Fontes as well. Thus, last week, when we spoke with Bennett, his hope was that the state's new Democratic Governor (and former Democratic Sec. of State) Katie Hobbs would sign the landmark transparency measure this week.
Instead, just before airtime, Hobbs vetoed the bill, falsely claiming it would "threaten anonymity" of voters and "open the door to the spread of additional election mis- and dis-information."
As Bennett explained last week on the show, he strongly disagrees. So does the nonpartisan election transparency group, AUDIT USA, headed up by longtime Democrat and ballot image proponent, John Brakey. They issued a statement responding to Hobbs' veto, calling it "a blow to efforts to reduce election conspiracies."
They charge the measure would "achieve just the opposite" of spreading "mis- and dis-information." In the statement, Brakey said that "By claiming the bill would compromise the privacy and anonymity of voters and lead to the increased spread of disinformation, the Governor has ignored the experience of multiple jurisdictions around the country that have been posting ballot images without the problems she claims would be caused."
The group is now hoping to win the one more vote in the state Senate and 9 more votes in the state House that will be needed to override Hobbs' veto. They will have about 21 days after they come back into session in mid-June. Stay tuned...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)