Only President Barack Obama can cause the U.S. to default on its sovereign debt, and congressional Republicans must make this fact clear to the American people before the current debt ceiling is reached.
And only by owning the definition of “default” does the minority party in control of only one house of Congress have any chance of using the debt limit debate to rein in the Democrats’ out of control spending, spur job-producing economic growth and win the political argument going into the next election.
Of course, the Republican House of Representatives can, under Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, refuse to authorize the borrowing of any additional money on the credit of United States, and thus impose the balancing of spending with tax receipts, i.e. “the budget”. In that event, the Executive Branch would have at its disposal only tax receipts to spend on all “obligations” of the federal government based upon current law including entitlements and “discretionary” spending covered by the continuing budget resolution still in effect. But tax receipts only cover approximately two-thirds of current budgetary obligations, with the discretion to prioritizing expenditures in the President’s hands, absent a new law setting such priorities that both sides would have to agree to; and of course, that won’t happen.