Friday, July 29, 2011


Yesterday I appeared on Bakersfield's local KGET Channel 17 News to discuss the budget debate going on in Washington.

I appeared with California's Republican king maker, writ large, Mark Abernathy. During the course of our discussion Abernathy spoke about revenues as a percentage of GDP under Reagan. Or at least that's what I heard him say he was talking about.

I wasn't sure where Abernathy was going so I chimed in, reminding him that although Reagan raised taxes (payroll) that revenues as a percentage of GDP actually went down under Reagan. And this was after Reagan promised that tax revenues would go up because of his trickle down economic policies. Abernathy then corrected me, saying he was actually talking about "spending" as a percentage of GDP (I'm waiting for a copy of the tape).

I thought to myself, "Huh ... I heard revenue" but decided to play along.

In fact, I was more than happy to play along and talk about spending as a percentage of GDP under Republican presidents because, quite frankly, they exploded. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so I couldn't do a proper smack down on Abernathy and his take on spending (or revenues) as a percentage of GDP.

As luck would have it, as if on cue, Barry Ritholtz posted this easy to read spending as a percentage of GDP chart today. It's not good news for Mr. Abernathy.

Long story short? As I was trying to explain, spending as a percentage of GDP went up under President Reagan (which is one of the reasons I wasn't sure where Abernathy was going with his Reagan story). Making matters worse for Abernathy is that (as I was also going to explain), revenues also dropped under Ronald Reagan - as they did under President Bush II.

Now, ask yourself, "What would happen to my household budget if my income dropped while my expenses went up?" This isn't rocket science.

So, why doesn't the GOP understand any of this?

- Mark


So it went down to the wire and the GOP leadership couldn't even control their own party. After blustering about the budget bill they would pass - and then, in their minds, force onto President Obama's desk - the GOP leadership failed to get enough fellow republicans to support their own budget plan. Incredible.

How does this happen, you ask? It happens, in part, because the current GOP leadership has a history of puffing their chest out in empty displays of machismo and false bravado, and then thinking that it counts for real substance.

Think about it. First we had this intellectually empty display of political PR, colored by a book title filled with Western machismo ...

Gun-slinging tough guys, right? But for the serious student of public policy the book reminded them more of this... 

Then we watched as majority whip - and Bakersfield's own - Kevin McCarthy, used this film clip to get his team on board with the budget ...

Wow. Stand back. Don't go into a dark alley with these guys, right?

The reality is that no amount of Hollywood-inspired tough guy bravado can hide the fact that the current GOP leadership is led by corporate errand boys. Worse, they do the bidding of a Speaker who seems more comfortable crumbling emotionally like this ...

Then, for good measure, we heard about Speaker Boehner using more tough guy language. He actually told fellow Republicans to "Get your ass in line," only to watch as GOP lawmakers ignored his "laying down the law" ultimatum. At the end of the day, only Boehner knows what his fellow Republicans saw, and why they rejected his last minute police-like command ...

I know, I know ... what they're discussing in Washington deserves better then the caricatures I've presented above.

Then again, there are times when you get what you deserve when you create an image of yourself that doesn't fit with reality ...

Just saying.

- Mark

Thursday, July 28, 2011


For the Kern County audience ...

I'll be on Bakersfield's KGET Channel 17 News tonight during their 5 pm segment. I'll be discussing the debt debate with Mr. King of GOP politics in California, Mark Abernathy. It should be fun.

- Mark

Monday, July 25, 2011


Happy Anniversary! Almost 10 years ago today, on August 1, 2001, the Associated Press reported that the Treasury Department began borrowing $51 billion in order to pay for the first round of Bush tax cuts’ rebate checks.

While Democrats consider cutting entitlements and other programs, the GOP plans on celebrating by convincing each other that keeping the Bush tax cuts (especially for the rich) will fix what's ailing our country. Read about it here.

The really incredible thing is that if the rich and corporations paid taxes at the same level they did in the 1960s our budget debt would disappear.

- Mark

Friday, July 22, 2011


Recently I wrote a couple of op-eds for our local paper, the Bakersfield Californian. There were several responses from community members, one of which said President Bush's annual budgets only added a little over $2 trillion to our national debt. Huh?

Hey, I have an idea. Let's do the math.

     5.6 trillion          (our national debt, December, 2000)
+    ???????            (big mystery ...)
= 10.6 trillion          (our national debt, December, 2008)

Now, try as hard as I can, I can't seem to see how our national debt grows to $10.6 trillion in 2008 by adding only 2 trillion to what we owed in 2000. Can you? This is a real puzzler. So, let's make it even simpler. Does 5 + 2 = 10?  Hmmmm ... I know, tough one.
Time to call Stephen Hawking or John Nash ...

All kidding aside, a simple Google search of the Treasury Department, or even Wikipedia, would have showed my friend that President Bush's annual budget deficits added much more than $2 trillion to our national debt.

My guess is that my friend was playing with the rhetoric. He did write that "Bush's annual budget deficits (added to the national debt) totaled $2.006 trillion." This might give him leeway (in his mind) to argue "If you look at President Bush's annual budget proposals you'll see ...". Cute.

Unless you're a professional psychologist, it really serves no purpose to try and understand or explain the logic behind this kind of thinking. So I won't. But as a student of politics, and as an American who doesn't want to see our country driven off a financial cliff, I also understand we can't solve our budget problems by sticking our head in the sand, or being cute with the math.

The real problem with being cute with the numbers, and the subsequent factual disconnect in the GOP, is that it's been going on for some time now.

For the better part of two decades the GOP has conveniently forgotten that President Reagan raised taxes 11 times, raised the debt ceiling 17 times, and effectively tripled our national debt from $950 billion in 1981 to $2.7 trillion at the end of his presidency. Yet, the GOP persists in the idol worship of Reagan, calling him a tax cutting fiscal conservative!

The math isn't very difficult here (who can't count to 11, 17, or 3?), so why the disconnect?

More recently, I had a friend (who's a conservative republican) argue - as do many other republicans -  that the Clinton surpluses weren't real. I know that this mind-set is a way for the GOP to ignore that the Bush administration blew through $5.6 trillion in projected budget surpluses after 2001. Still - and although I'm nobodies idea of an accountant - I decided to explain the math behind the Clinton surpluses. I took my time and explained on my blog (very slowly) why my friend might not believe Clinton's surpluses were real. Then I explained (very slowly) why the Clinton surpluses were real (the key is distinguishing between annual revenue and total debt).

It didn't make a dent. Sigh.

Like Galileo's colleagues (and the Church), who refused to look through his telescope for fear of what it might do to their narrow-minded world views (they were afraid of learning that the earth moves), many in the GOP are afraid of what looking at the facts will do to their world.

So, they play games, and refuse to do the math.

This explains why, in spite of evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP can say with a straight face that President Obama created our trillion dollar deficits. They don't do the math, which allows them to ignore what unfunded wars ($300 billion), unfunded insurance giveaways ($70 billion), unfunded bailouts ($350 billion), unfunded tax cuts ($300 billion), and the unfunded costs associated with financial losses from the market collapse ($250 billion) have done to our budget numbers since 2008.

Worse, like the petulant kid in the back of the room, the GOP blames the guy next to him for the problems they caused.

At the end of the day, President Reagan effectively tripled our national debt. Then President Bush II doubled it (and he started with annual budget surpluses!), and left a mess for President Obama to clean up. The GOP ignores these inconvenient truths, and then fail to do the math because it's politically convenient not to

Our problem now is that it's threatening the financial stability of our republic. Whatever happened to America First?

- Mark

Thursday, July 21, 2011


In the "too funny to ignore" category ...

Apparently, in 2006, the Swiss government gave away at least 30 cuckoo clocks to foreign embassies, with cuckoo (?) birds that come out and take pictures.  

Upon learning that they had one of the clocks, a spokeswoman for the British ambassador reported that they have removed the clock from the dining room “as a precaution.”

The Swiss government is saying nothing, for the moment.

- Mark


The NY Times has an excellent collection of essays that discusses U.S. presidents and their debts. Richard Reeves' "Reagan's Deficit Dreamscape" is wonderfully written, easy to understand and, more importantly, reminds everyone that Reagan started the "borrow and spend" policies that have put us in a hole today. But my favorite is David Kennedy's "FDR, Budget Hawk." It's short, to the point, and dispels any notion that conservatives have about FDR being a spend thrift. 

They're all excellent, so I hope you can find the time to read some of them.

- Mark  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


* If you want to connect the dots between the News Corps scandal in the UK and the dangerous lies and disinformation from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, check out this piece.  

* My God, when it comes to understanding science and the weather (and pretty much anything else for that matter) Rush Limbaugh's an idiot ...

* Speaking of the weather, the state of Texas prayed for rain in April. Unfortunately, there's little to show for Texas' state sanctioned 3 day pray-a-thon. Has God forsaken Texas? Think about it. With Texas state agencies battling record wildfires and heat, the severity of the Texas drought makes it look like God might actually hate Texas more than he hates gays ...

Perhaps the rain maker, President Obama, needs to make a few more stops in Texas, like he did in May ; -)

- Mark


Some may find this hard to believe, but I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980. While it was a gut-wrenching, last minute, decision there are many reasons that I voted for Reagan instead of Jimmy Carter (yes, youth played a role). Hindsight, and the results of his disastrous trickle down policies, tell me that I should have voted for Carter.

Still, one of the things I found attractive about Reagan was that he came across as witty (instead of arrogant) and had made his own way in life (unlike you know who). Another thing I saw was that Ronald Reagan had learned lessons from a life that included living with an alcoholic father during the Great Depression, which made flexibility and adaptability critical to his survival. This carried over into his political world.

Unfortunately, in spite of claiming that they are part of the Reagan legacy, adaptability and flexibility are not the qualities we're seeing from our Tea Party hijacked Republican Party (a party Reagan likely would neither fit into, nor recognize). This is especially the case when it came to the budget process. Check out this classic Reagan quote on the budget now making the rounds:

"Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world."

 You can also listen to it here ...

The point is, Ronald Reagan loved this country, which made him adaptable, not a radical.

Indeed, former Senator Alan Simpsom (R-WY) likes to remind people that Reagan raised taxes 11 times in order to get his budgets in order (he raised taxes as governor of California too). To be sure, Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit, but he understood that there was a certain responsibility to governing. This is one of the reasons he was able to sleep at night after he gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants and their families, while presiding over a federal government that increased in size under his watch.

If the GOP listened to their inner Reagan, instead of to their Tea Party hoodlums, they would understand why it's necessary to raise revenues. Especially after they increased government spending to cover wars, depression economics, corporate bailouts, and assorted programs that Congress signed off on.
The GOP needs to channel their inner Reagan, and ask, "What would Reagan do"?
- Mark

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


In the "I can't believe I missed this when it came out" deparment ...

If you don't like the budget proposal offered by the Democrats (not) then this article is for you. If you don't like the budget proposals offered by the Republicans then this article is for you. Either way, conservative columnist David Brooks is on to something as he takes it to both the Democrats and the Republicans.

But this is my favorite segment ...

The Republican growth agenda — tax cuts and nothing else — is stupefyingly boring, fiscally irresponsible and politically impossible. Gigantic tax cuts — if they were affordable — might boost overall growth, but they would do nothing to address the structural problems that are causing a working-class crisis.

Republican politicians don’t design policies to meet specific needs, or even to help their own working-class voters. They use policies as signaling devices — as ways to reassure the base that they are 100 percent orthodox and rigidly loyal. Republicans have taken a pragmatic policy proposal from 1980 and sanctified it as their core purity test for 2012.

As for the Democrats, they offer practically nothing. They acknowledge huge problems like wage stagnation and then offer... light rail! Solar panels! It was telling that the Democrats offered no budget this year, even though they are supposedly running the country. That’s because they too are trapped in a bygone era.

Mentally, they are living in the era of affluence, but, actually, they are living in the era of austerity. They still have these grand spending ideas, but there is no longer any money to pay for them and there won’t be for decades. Democrats dream New Deal dreams, propose nothing and try to win elections by making sure nobody ever touches Medicare.

Covering this upcoming election is like covering a competition between two Soviet refrigerator companies, cold-war relics offering products that never change.

Long story short? Our political system is broke, and our political Neros - from both sides of the political aisle - are fiddling while Rome burns.

I'll go along with that.

- Mark

Monday, July 18, 2011


While there are a couple of segments that could've been added, the following clip is still a pretty good introduction to why the middle class is in a financial lion's den today. It's no accident. In many ways, it's been engineered. The video is called "How the Middle Class Got Screwed" ...

For those of you who are interested in a broader presentation on these topics, I discuss much of this in chapters one and two of my book, The Myth of the Free Market.

- Mark

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The republican party persists in pushing the notion that the budget mess is all Obama's fault, and are poised to push America over a financial cliff to make their delusional points. If you want to see in graphic form how President Bush and the GOP recklessly blew through $5.6 trillion in projected budget surpluses, and then gave us our current budget mess, check this out ...

Also, if you want a little "10th anniversary" light reading on the impact of Bush's budget-busting tax cuts, click here.

No wonder the rest of the world thinks the GOP is made up of "dangerous maniacs." The world sees something many Americans don't seem to understand: Republicans are crazy stupid when it comes to tax cuts and the budget (seriously, who introduces a budget with no numbers and then passes a resolution that says if the Senate doesn’t pass a House spending bill, the House spending bill becomes the Law of the Land?).

The rest of the world now thinks the GOP is made up of nut jobs. Via Digg, read all about it here.

- Mark

P.S. In the spirit of the craziness, time for some Patsy Cline ...

Thursday, July 14, 2011


* Ha, ha, ha, ha ... I love happy endings that involve morons getting their clocks cleaned. Via Digg, check this out.

* I've been saying this about taxes and our deficits for some time now. But it's nice to get updated (or is that corrected?) tax revenue figures.

* Speaking of the "Update-Mistake" department, this is a big one. It turns out that tax expert David Cay Johnston fell into a tax accounting spider hole, and used what he thought he found in an article. At least he explains what happened. You'll understand too once you read the "Checking the Records" section of his mea culpa. (And Kudos to Johnston for, once again, helping us understand why the U.S. doesn't always collect the taxes it is owed.)

* Eric Cantor's account of President Obama "walking out" of budget negotiations - after Cantor actually did so last month - is in line with his claim that his offices had been fired at when, in fact, it was random gunfire. Then, as now, Cantor's trying to personalize and use headline news to score cheap political points. What a drama queen.

- Mark

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Last Friday I wrote that the debt crisis created by the GOP wasn't as big a deal as our on-going housing and mortgage mess. Specifically, I pointed out that because homeowners continue to be confronted with a legal maze of walls that makes a mess of property rights in America, that the integrity of our market system is threatened.

While the issue of property rights were discussed in the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's report (issued January 2011), key references to "deregulation," Wall Street's "shadow" banking system, and how Wall Street misled investors were ignored in a separate GOP minority report. And why not? The intent of the GOP minority report was clearly to place blame for the 2008 market collapse on the government (as I discussed here, here and here).

It turns out that there may have been a very specific reason for GOP commission members to blame the government (specifically Fannie Mae, Sallie Mae, and the CRA) for the 2008 market collapse. By blaming "the government" Wall Street and the banks get a free pass. This is where GOP commission member Peter J. Wallison enters the scene.

According to a report prepared for congress, Wallison may have deliberately tried to sabotage the FCIC report because he was working for, or getting support from, certain financial interests. Barry Ritholtz - CEO, blogger, and author of Bailout Nation - has posted correspondence that he received from a DC lawyer who is familiar with the developments, and suggests that Wallison's efforts may be backfiring.

One of the reasons for this - according to the report prepared for congress - is that Wallison's primary points were not supported by any of the commission members. From page four of the report we learn:

Internal Commission documents indicate that Commissioner Wallison used his position to promote a theory of the economic crisis supported by Chairman Issa and put forth by EdwardPinto, a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). This theory, that government housing policy was the primary cause of the nation’s economic crisis, was ultimately rejected as flawed by every other member of the Commission [my emphasis].

Oddly enough, former Bakersfield congressman, Bill Thomas (also a GOP FCIC commission member), may be the point man for uncovering Wallison's activities. While Bill Thomas is a Washington insider, one of the thing's that pisses him off - and could tear him away from the GOP game plan for the moment - is if he thinks anyone is playing him for a fool.

If Wallison deliberately tried to pull one over on Bill Thomas (by feeding him false or misleading information), and then having Thomas push his agenda forward for his private gain, Wallison could be in trouble. Better yet, if Thomas can punish Wallison by discrediting his position we just might see some progress made when it comes to untangling our Wall Street-created property rights maze (which is critical for discrediting Wallison's position).

Stay tuned.

- Mark

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Are republicans like the jury in the Casey Anthony trial? Yes, according to Maher. This is another Bill Maher classic ...

- Mark

Saturday, July 9, 2011


If the GOP won't listen to reason on their current threat to ruin America's financial credibility by not raising the debt ceiling, perhaps a word from Warren Buffet will help. Specifically, Buffet discussed our recent political history, and explained, "We raised the debt ceiling seven times during the Bush Administration."

But now, according to Buffet, the Republican-controlled Congress is threatening to "blow your brains out, America" by not raising the debt ceiling. Buffet added that this would ruin America's "debt worthiness over time," and reminded everyone about this bit of financial history too:

We had debt at 120 percent of the GDP, far higher than this [today, about 95%], after World War II and no one went around threatening that we're going to ruin the credit of the United States ... in order to get a better balance of debt to GDP.

Buffet is pointing out one simple fact here. When it comes to our current debt levels (and the GOP's threat not to raise the debt ceiling), we're not near the levels we were at during World War II.

In my view, Buffet is also trying to remind America that, in their quest to discredit President Obama, the GOP has become a party of economic and historical illiterates.

Perhaps Buffet said it best when he commented that if the GOP-led Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling - especially with two wars and the Depression Economic conditions that President Bush dumped on America's lap - it would constitute "the most asinine act" in our nation's history.

Because this debt ceiling game is little more than political theater by the GOP to "get" Obama, I couldn't agree more.

- Mark

Friday, July 8, 2011


While it's no longer big news, this story from the state of Washington is yet another example why our mortgage and housing mess is far from over. The key points about this specific house (which could be any foreclosed house in America) include:

* After the homeowners were evicted the house became both an eye sore and part time hotel for local vagrants and drug dealers.

* The mortgage contract that was foreclosed on had been bundled up with other mortgages and sold to investors as part of a security, so ...

* The market "owners" of the mortgage (American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc.) may have the title but claim they "don’t have legal possession.”


In plain language - and as I pointed out in November - what all of this means is that because financiers, brokers, and investors have created a legal maze that only they understand (and benefit from), we're screwed.

Because private property lies at the heart of the American experience, if we can't figure out something as simple as home ownership, fixating on deficits won't mean a thing. Simply put, we're going to have much bigger legal and financial problems down the road if we don't deal with this Wall Street-banker induced mess.

Seriously, check out this trail of home ownership that took one market securities expert one year to put together ... (and it was his home!).

Now, ask yourself, Is this the way private property rights should be organized in America?

So, if you want to understand why homeowners are adrift, while the big banks are sitting on a pile of money after their bailouts, take a deeper look at our housing mess. Then take a look at how Wall Street both contributed and is largely to blame for the mess. It will leave you wondering why Wall Street isn't in jail.

When conservatives and their Tea Party overlords take a serious look at this stuff, and start fixing this banking-mortgage-Wall Street mess, then maybe I'll take them seriously. Otherwise, we're setting ourselves up for a trip down Bailout Memory Lane, again. What then? More deregulation and tax breaks for our Wall Street and banking gargoyles?

Until then, the GOP and their Tea Party noise machine need to take a seat, and quit yappin' about things they don't really understand.

- Mark

P.S. I'll have a post on the deficits next week.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


With all the Tea Party-driven budget threats going on, I thought it would be nice to have some fun and post a few Tea Party comics, by assorted artists, from The Week

Let's start with one of the dominant Tea Party stories most Americans are seeing today ...

But the real Tea Party story today - good, bad, or indifferent - is what's happened to both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party during these budget talks ...
What's interesting though is that most level headed GOP and Tea Party supporters understand what their "no tax" pledges really means in the long run ...

Still, it's the GOP who's taking the brunt of the Tea Party challenges and demands ...
As Speaker John Boehner has been learning over the past year ...

But we still need to remind ourselves - and the Tea Party supporters - that regulation and taxes on wealth have never been the issue, as Teddy Roosevelt made clear over a century ago ...

- Mark

P.S.: Oh, almost forgot this one from South Park (fair warning, language may be offensive to some) ...

Kudos to Rafael for the lead-in to this ;-) ...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Over time I've tried to explain in as simple terms as possible how we got into our current budget mess. In April I wrote how republicans refuse to go after one source of our budget bills - wasteful corporate subsidies, write-offs, tax deductions and other unnecessary giveaways - which add well over $1 trillion to our national tab.

Then, in another post, I pointed out how President Bush's policy choices effectively squandered budget surpluses, and discussed the same points in an op-ed I wrote for the Bakersfield Californian. All of this created a fiscal and economic mess that the GOP and their Tea Party sycophants have no problem blaming on President Obama.

I've also pointed to Alan Greenspan's ridiculous cage matches with himself, and the Ayn Rand inspired policies he supported, which helped drive our economy into a ditch (this takes us down another road, that we can avoid for now).

The point is very few people on the far right want to believe that President Bush and the Republican Party's tax cut jihad are to blame for our current budget problems. This is why these CBO projections from 2001 are so important to look at today. Every year the Congressional Budget Office makes 10-year budget projections, based on spending, revenue, and laws then in place. In 2001 the CBO projected a cumulative surplus of $5.6 trillion through 2011.

Let me repeat, in 2001 the CBO projected cumulative surpluses of $5.6 trillion through 2011.

What this means is that if we had continued with Clinton era tax rates, and avoided some of the reckless wars and other policies pursued by the Bush administration, we would be paying off our entire national debt at the end of this year (or at least seeing the fiscal light at the end of our economic tunnel). Instead, as a result of the Bush years, we've seen a collective swing of $11.8 trillion (from the January 2001 projections), and record budget deficits.

Check out the CBO projection numbers here, and what it looks like in graph form here ...

So, what happened? George Bush happened. I really can't make it any simpler than that.

- Mark

Friday, July 1, 2011


After the Civil War the United States Congress determined that the federal government and individual states were not obligated to compensate slave owners for the value of their merchandise (freed slaves). As well, Congress wanted to make sure that southern states, upset over losing the war, would not balk at helping to pay the public debt, much of which was incurred fighting the Civil War.

To make sure this happened MSNBC's Lawrence O' Donnell pointed out on his program last night that the 14th amendment included the following:

Section 4. 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.

Today Congress, often led by constitutional and historical illiterates, seem to think they don't have to authorize funding to pay our nation's obligations (which congress signed off on). In effect Congress is saying they don't have to do their job. And they're doing this in spite of the fact that the 14th amendment makes it clear that it is the job of Congress to make sure our debts are paid (Section 5: "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.").

This raises a question. If Congress refuses raise the debt ceiling, does the wording of the 14th amendment suggest that Congress is abdicating it's constitutional responsibilities?

Better yet, does it leave an opening for President Obama to declare a national emergency? He could say, "Fine, we're in a war, and Congress is now creating a national emergency situation by refusing to help fund our wars, which they authorized. I'm going to declare a national emergency and unilaterally make payments where I see fit, and secure loans through Treasury to make sure the country continues to operate."

And where does the President of the United States get the power to enforce Section 4 of the 14th amendment? From two sources in the Constitution:

Article II, Clause 8: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Article II, Section 3: ... [The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.
The last time I looked, the 14th amendment is part of the Constitution, while payment of our debts (bonds) is part of our nation's laws.
- Mark