Monday, September 27, 2021

14th Amendment Debt Limit Option

Call it the “in case of emergency, break glass” Option: The President invokes the Civil War-era 14th Amendment to the Constitution, to Ignore the Statutory Debt Limit, and continue to Borrow if Lawmakers can’t Agree to give the Treasury Department more Borrowing room.

“There is a big difference between avoiding default by months or minutes,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, citing the 2011 Debate that went down to the wire and led Standard & Poor’s to Downgrade U.S. Credit.

But with Republicans taking a Hard Line, and 60 Votes likely needed to advance a Debt Limit Measure in the Evenly divided Senate, there’s no clear path to avoiding what Yellen calls “default” on U.S. Obligations.

No one, least of all the White House, is talking publicly about the possibility that President Biden might consider, for the First time ever, ordering Treasury to Defy the $28.4 TrillionD Debt Ceiling and continue to Borrow.

But Biden was there as Vice President during the Obama-era Fights with Intransigent Republicans, and his entire Agenda could be at Risk if there’s another extended Stalemate over the Full Faith and Credit of the U.S.

Setting Borrowing Limits has always been a Power reserved to Congress, to which the Constitution grants Sole Authority to raise Revenue, spend Taxpayer Dollars, “pay the debts” and “borrow money on the credit of the United States.”

But some Scholars argue that if the Congress does Not Raise the Debt Limit, the President can Justify continuing to borrow Money by citing the “Public Debt Clause” of the 14th Amendment, which was Ratified in 1868, Three years after the Civil War ended.

The 14th Amendment granted Citizenship to most Iindividuals Born or Naturalized in the U.S., including Black People, though the Status of Native Americans wasn’t Clarified until 1924. The 14th Amendment also barred Anyone who Engaged in Rebellion or Treason from Serving as a State or Federal Official. And in Section 4, the 14th Amendment says the “validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” The Section Prohibited the Federal Government or States from Paying any Debt or Obligation incurred to Aid the Insurrection “or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave.”

Scholars say the Public Debt Section, was included in part, based on Fears that a Future Congress, Dominated by formerly Confederate States, would Repudiate Federal Debt or Guarantee Confederate Debt.

But when the Question was percolating during the Obama Administration, several Scholars argued the Amendment allows the President to continue Borrowing after the Debt Limit Expires.

Former President Bill Clinton said in 2011 that during his 1995-96 Budget Standoff with Republicans, his Staff researched the Constitutional Implications and that he would use the 14th Amendment “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.” However, at that time President Obama said he had talked with his Lawyers and they were “not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”

On July 8th, 2011, with less than a Month to go before potentially running out of Funds, Treasury General Counsel, George Madison, wrote that then-Secretary Timothy F. Geithner “has never argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the President to disregard the statutory debt limit… the Constitution explicitly places the borrowing authority with Congress, not the President.”

The 2011 Debt Limit Fight led Obama, a Democratic-controlled Senate, and a Republican-controlled House, then led by Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH), to reach a Deal to Raise the Debt Limit in Exchange for a Series of Discretionary Spending Caps that Expires at the End of the Current Fiscal year. But that Measure didn’t Clear Congress until Aug. 2nd, the day Treasury was expected to Run-Out of Borrowing Authority, and resulted in such Steep Spending Cuts that Democrats pledged never to Negotiate over the Debt Ceiling again.

Obama touched on the 14th Amendment again during a Fight over the Debt Limit in 2013. He said that even if it were Constitutional, it would be “tied up in litigation for a long time” and “that’s going to make people nervous.” Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told Reporters on Sept. 30th, 2013, weeks before that year’s Mid-October Deadline, that the “president can’t raise it by himself.” “This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the power to ignore the debt ceiling,” Carney said, adding that such a Move wouldn’t be seen as “a credible alternative” and “would not be taken seriously by the global economy and markets.”

After a Two-week Partial Government Shutdown, Lawmakers cleared Legislation on Oct. 16th, 2013, to End the Shutdown and Suspend the Debt Ceiling, with No further Conditions. It was the Night before Treasury told Lawmakers it would Run-Out of Cash and Borrowing Room. But Neil H. Buchanan, a University of Florida Law Professor, made the Case for invoking the 14th Amendment back then and Reprised it this Summer. In a July 27th Article in Verdict, an Online Legal Newsletter, he urged Biden to Declare the Treasury will Continue to Borrow and Pay Bills even without the Debt Limit being Raised. “If that time comes, he must instruct the Treasury Department to pay all the bills in full, using exactly as much borrowed money as Congress’s duly enacted laws require,” he wrote.

Under the 14th Amendment, Buchanan said in an Interview, the Government “can’t do anything that undermines confidence in the validity of the public debt,” such as Missing Required Payments. Buchanan said if the President can’t Borrow, he must Cut Spending, a Violation of his Constitutional Duty to Spend Congressional Appropriations. The President can’t raise Taxes Unilaterally to continue Paying those Bills either. Continuing to Borrow is “the least damaging choice,” he said. One Prominent Critic of Buchanan’s Arguments, Harvard Legal Scholar, Laurence Tribe, appears to have come around.

In 2011, Tribe Argued that the Amendment did Not give the President Authority to Ignore the Debt Limit. But in a July 25th Tweet, Tribe wrote that the Amendment “prohibits any default on Treasury’s obligations” and that “if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, Executive action to avoid default arguably violates Congress’s exclusive power of the purse but is the lesser of two constitutional evils.”

Other Academics contend there’s No Basis for using the 14th Amendment to ignore the Debt Limit. “The 14th Amendment doesn’t authorize the taking of debt,” according to Ilya Shapiro, Vice President and Director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. “That’s the bottom line.” Shapiro said the President can’t Ignore the Debt Limit any more than he can “increase taxes or cut spending unilaterally.” “There’s an academic dispute,” Shapiro said. “But the thing is, we’re in no danger of not serving the debt.” Shapiro said the Treasury would Collect enough in Revenue to continue Paying Bond Holders if bBrrowing were Halted. The Government would have to Temporarily Halt some Federal Programs or Reduce Federal Payments.

Republican Lawmakers in the past argued the Treasury could Prioritize Debt Payments while Postponing other Spending if the Debt Limit were Not Raised. Transcripts of Meetings between Treasury and Federal Reserve Officials during the 2011 and 2013 Standoffs show Debt Prioritization was indeed under Consideration.

But according to a Goldman Sachs Estimate, some 40% of other Federal Payments would be at Risk, ranging from Social Security Benefits to Military Salaries.

If Biden cited the 14th Amendment to continue Borrowing, it’s unclear what Recourse Opponents would have in Court, or how long such Litigation would take to Resolve. “The standing issue is a hard one,” Shapiro said. “Who is hurt by unauthorized borrowing? Would it be Congress as an institution?”

Buchanan suspects Republicans might have Standing to Challenge the Action even though they are a Minority in both Chambers. Yet Buchanan also says it’s Possible the Supreme Court “might just decide that this is one of those political questions that Congress and the president have to work out” without a Ruling.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NYC's Next Frontier In Storing Clean Energy

br /> The New York City’s Annual Climate Week, which wrapped up Friday, featured Energy Promises from Elected Officials. Among the touted Initiatives, are a pair of New Transmission Lines to deliver Upstate Clean Energy into the New York City's Five Boroughs; a $200 Million Plan for Wind-Energy Development; and a Program to Convert Homes to Solar Energy.

What will be needed for each of those Plans, and the overarching New York Goal of going Fully Renewable in the next 30 years, is the Ability to Store the Power produced by Wind and Solar for when Clean-Energy Production and Demand from the Grid don’t Align.

To that end, the City's Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and Newlab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on Monday launched the Resilient Energy Studio, focused on providing Public and Private Resources to boost Energy-Storage Startups.

“The city has made big moves in the past year to invest in off-shore wind energy,” said Shaina Horowitz, Newlab’s Vice President of Products and Programs. “So if you are thinking at the moonshot level, how do you connect offshore wind development investments into storage capacity for neighborhoods?”

Companies would be given access to City Resources to Test the Concepts, through the Studio, with a Focus on Delivering Environmental Justice Communities, Ones with a Majority of Low-Income Residents and People of Color, that have experienced a Disproportionate Share of Poor Environmental Outcomes, as defined by the City Climate Office.

The Privately-run Newlab is a Membership-based Workspace for “frontier” Technology Startups, based out of an 84,000-square-foot Space, where U.S. Navy Ships were Built for World Wars I and II.

The City in 2016, invested $7.2 Million to Launch Urban Tech Hubs, to Support Young Companies, at Newlab and Grand Central Tech, now called Company. The Resilient Energy Studio is the latest Offshoot of the Urban Tech Hub concept.

Accepted Companies get Access to Newlab’s Workspace, as well as to Public Resources for Technology Pilots, that otherwise can be Difficult for Early-Stage Companies to Secure.

A 2020 Studio collaboration between the City and Newlab, Circular City, included a Company, Aclima, that Deployed Sensors throughout Brooklyn Tracking Air-Quality Block-by-Block.

Studios at Newlab’s Brooklyn Space include:

- A Partnership with Verizon for Companies developing Technologies based on 5G Connectivity. It included several Robotics Companies in its First Cohort.

- A “return to work” Studio, focused on ways to Safely operate In-Person Businesses, including a Collaboration with Strongarm Technologies. Strongarm developed a Sensor that reminds Workers in Industrial Settings to keep 6 feet Apart, and that Tracks Interactions for Contact Tracing.

Beyond just potential Battery Technology, Newlab said it hopes the Resilient Energy Studio, attracts New types of Software and Business Models for Energy Storage and Distribution.

Horowitz cited Fermata Energy, a Company that is part of Newlab’s 5G Studio, as one example. Fermata has Designed a Bidirectional Electric Vehicle Charger, allowing a Car to Discharge the Extra Energy, in its Battery, back into the Grid for Payment.

Applications are Open now. Horowitz said Startups should have a Product Ready to be Piloted.

Newlab and the EDC are in Discussions on potential Locations for Energy-Storage Pilot Programs.

The Organizations are accepting Applications for a Founder Fellowship, which offers, an Eight-to-12-month Membership, to Startup leaders who are from Groups Underrepresented in the Technology Industry.

CLICK HERE for Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines - Version 4.0.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Philadelphia Could Be Next To Adopt RCV

The Philadelphia City Council, Passed a Resolution on Friday, to consider using the Alternative Voting System for Municipal Elections, and will Proceed with Public Hearings to Discuss the Switch.

Momentum for Ranked-Choice-Voting (RCV) has been building across the Country, especially since New York City successfully used the New System in its June Primaries for certain Positions, including Mayor.

Under this Alternative Voting System, Voters Rank Candidates in Order of Preference. In the case that No Candidate receives Majority Support, an Instant Runoff occurs, as the Candidate with the Fewest Votes is Eliminated, and that Person's Support is Redistributed to Voters' Second Choices. That Process continues until, the Candidate with the Highest, 50%+1, is the Wnner. In New York City, the Rounds ended with Two Cndidates, with the largest Vote, the Winner.

Proponents of RCV say it Reduces the Cost of Election Administration, and Improves the Voter experience by Eliminating the need for Costly seperate Runoff Elections.

Supporters also argue RCV bolsters the Campaigns of Women and People of Color.

However, Critics say the System is Confusing and doesn't necessarily Lead to better Representation.

Exit Polling following the New York City Mayoral Primaries, showed High Voter Turnout, and an easy Transition to the RCV System.

More than 1.1 Million New Yorkers cast Ballots in the Primaries, the Highest Turnout in more than Three Decades. And for the First time ever, Women will likely hold a Majority of the 51 City Council Seats.

New York City will also likely have its First-ever Openly Gay Black Woman, and First Person of South Asian Decent, join the Council.

The Philadelphia City Council will consider the Implications of Adopting such a System in Pennsylvania's Largest City.

"Like New York City, Philadelphia has partisan primaries that are followed by a general election that is far less contested," said Rob Richie, President and CEO of FairVote, which Advocates for RCV. "New York's precedent for adding ranked-choice voting to the primary is a particularly sensible step that will make more votes count, as FairVote and our in-sight reform allies have suggested for years."

In addition to New York City, 39 other Jurisdictions currently have a RCV System.

Maine and Alaska offer RCV in Statewide Elections.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Democratic Nominee For NYC Harlem State Senate Seat To Succeed New NY Lt. Governor

Cordell Cleare was Selected, on Saturday, to be the Democratic Nominee for Harlem's Open State Senate Sseat, ending weeks of speculation that began when, incumbent Brian Benjamin was elevated to Lieutenant Governor.

Cleare, 56, is a longtime Party Leader in the Neighborhood, who recently ran for the District 9 City Council Seat, finishing in Fourth place.

She will now Run in a November General Election for the 30th District Senate Seat, a Special Election, which she is all but certain to win.

Her Selection came at the End, of an hourslong Meeting of Local District Leaders, convened by the Manhattan Democratic Party at an Auditorium in Riverbank State Park. Well over a Dozen People had expressed Interest in the Open Seat for the Seat, which covers Central Harlem and parts of: East Harlem, Hamilton Heights, the Upper West Side, and Washington Heights.

In the end, only Five People besides Cleare put themselves Forward: Assemblymembers Inez Dickens, Robert Rodriguez, and Al Taylor; Athena Moore, another recent Council Candidate; and Shana Harmongoff, a Staffer for Benjamin's Senate Office.

Rodriguez, though, withdrew from Contention soon after the Meeting began after realizing he did Not live within the District. Dickens, too, later took herself Out of contention despite initial speculation that she was a Strong Contender to win.

After Two Rounds of Voting, Moore with 40.7%, Cleare with 31.3%, and Taylor with 28%. In the Third Round, Cleare Defeated Moore with 57.4% of the Vote.

For years, Cleare worked for Bill Perkins, during his Tenure in the State Senate and City Council, serving as his Chief of Staff, though she eventually Challenged him for his Seat this Spring.

In 2016, she was a Party Delegate for Bernie Sanders during his Campaign for President. She has also served on a Local School Board and led a 1990s Fight against Led Poisoning after her Son was sickened.

During her recent Council Campaign, Cleare said her Top Priorities included: Affordable Housing, Tenant Protections, Protecting Harlem's Landmarks, and achieving Police-Free Schools. "I have a long record of community service and getting results," she wrote in a Candidate Questionnaire. She will Run again for a Full Term next year.

She has already drawn at least One Challenger for Next June's Democratic Primary: Ali Dinii, a Community Organizer who has the Support of District 9 City Council Nominee Kristin Richardson Jordan.

Dinii, a Democratic Socialist, withdrew on Saturday from the Special Election, calling the Internal Party Vote "undemocratic."

Cleare dedicated her Victory on Saturday, to her Son, Jordan, who Died last month at age 29.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

PennEast Stops Pipeline Development Despite Supreme Court Win

PennEast will Stop developing its proposed Pennsylvania-New Jersey Natural Gas Pipeline, despite a Court Ruling, bolstering the Project this summer.

Spokesperson, Pat Kornick, confirmed the Company was Stopping Development, after Not receiving some Permits for the New Jersey Portion.

"PennEast received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from FERC to construct the proposed pipeline and obtained some required permits, PennEast has not received certain permits, including a water quality certification and other wetlands permits under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act for the New Jersey portion of the Project," Kornick said in a Statement.

"Therefore, the PennEast partners, following extensive evaluation and discussion, recently determined further development of the Project no longer is supported. Accordingly, PennEast has ceased all further development of the Project," the Statement continued.

The Supreme Court, in June, Ruled that the Pipeline, could Sue New Jersey, to Seize Land from the State.

This is Not the First Pipeline Project, in recent months, to Stop Construction despite getting a Favorable Ruling from the High Court.

Last year, Companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, called it Qquits, despite also notching a Supreme Court Victory over Permitting.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Afghanistan UN Rep. Credential Dispute

Afghanistan will Not be able to address the United Nations General Assembly, in the wake of a Credentials Dispute between the Taliban and the Country's current Representative.

Ghulam M. Isaczai, is the current Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations. Isaczai is the Appointee of the Country's former Democratic Government.

His Staff informed the UN that he would No longer be Speaking at last week Session, according to UN Secretary-General Spokesperson, St├ęphane Dujarric. "This does not change the fact that the representative of Afghanistan remains the same," Dujarric said.

A battle over Credentials began last week, when the Taliban, sent the UN a Request to Replace Isaczai with their own Representative.

According to the Taliban's Letter, Isaczai No longer represents Afghanistan. Instead, it named Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, as the Islamist Militant Group's Nominee for Permanent Representation in New York.

The Letter also noted that former President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani has been "ousted and [countries across the world] no longer recognize him as president," according a Statement from Dujarric last week.

Since the Taliban took Control of Afghanistan, Isaczai has continued to Advocate for his Country, meeting with Foreign Envoys, and even calling on the UN Security Council to Pressure the Taliban into forming a more Democratic Government.

Last week, he also sent a Letter, to the UN Secretary-General, with a List of Delegates for last week's General Assembly and named Himself as the Head of the Delegation.

Both Bids for Recognition have been Submitted for consideration by the UN's Credentials Committee.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Biden Administration Moves To Preserve DACA

The Biden Administration, on Monday, announced plans to Create a Rule that would recreate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Policy, after a Texas Court found the Obama-era Program Unlawful, and Suspended New "Dreamers" from Appyiyng for Protections.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the forthcoming Rule, would "preserve and fortify" the DACA Program by seeking to address concerns over how it was Implemented.

"The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country,” DHS Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said in a Statement.

“This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However, only Congress can provide permanent protection," Mayorkas added. "I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve."

A Federal District Judge in Texas, Ruled in July, that the 2012 DACA Program, Violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

The Decision left Intact the Program’s Benefits for some 600,000 "Dreamers" otherwise Unable to obtain Legal Status after being brought to the U.S. as Children.

The Biden Administration Appealed the Decision.

The fate of Dreamers has been in Limbo for years. Trump sought to Terminate the DACA Policy in 2017, but it remained hung up in the Courts, after it was Ruled the Trump Administration did Not properly move to do so.

President Biden signed an Executive Order, upon taking Office toSstrengthen the Program, but Officials have acknowledged Congress must enact a Permanent Fix.

Those efforts took a Hit this month, when the Senate's Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, Ruled against Democrats' Plan to provide 8 Million Green Cards, as part of their $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill, dealing a Significant blow to the Party's Immigration Reform chances.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker