One can argue, of course, that the President does not have the power under the 14th Amendment to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling. But recently I’ve been seeing an argument to this effect that really makes no sense.
Section 5 of the 14th Amendment says that “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Some right-wingers have jumped on this provision, arguing that only Congress can use the 14th Amendment.
Just take a deep breath on this one, guys. There’s a case called Brown v. Board of Education that you might recall. It was an Equal Protection case. And where does the Equal Protection Clause arise in the Constitution? The 14th Amendment. Somehow, the Supreme Court there was able to enforce the 14th Amendment without the assistance of Congress. All Equal Protection cases, not to mention Due Process cases, derive from the 14th Amendment, and they don’t require Congressional action. Indeed, that’s part of the whole point: the Constitution is the law regardless of what Congress says.
I think that the argument for Presidential authority to lift the debt ceiling here is a good one. There are good arguments on the other side. Exclusive Congressional authority is not one of them.