Is the much-touted “Fourteenth Amendment option” a viable end run around the debt-ceiling nonsense that threatens to destroy the world?

Charles Grassley thinks so. Bruce Bartlett thinks so. Former president Bill Clinton definitely thinks so: He’s said he’d do it “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me”.

As for whether the courts or anyone else would or could try to stop Obama should he invoke the Fourteenth, even Laurence Tribe, who is known to be close to the Obama administration — close enough to carry its water, as he blatantly did with his pronouncement earlier this month that the Fourteenth Amendment didn’t trump the debt ceiling legislation — has admitted that this is highly unlikely: “This is not a circumstance in which the courts have any plausible point of entry.” Tribe even went so far as to dismiss the threat of impeachment as “not politically a very plausible scenario.”

So, knowing all of this, and with so much on the line — why, then, won’t President Obama admit that this is an option? Why, instead, is he pushing to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block — and getting various liberal “Veal Pen” groups to echo his call for cutting Social Security?

Could it be it’s because he’s been planning to attack Social Security and Medicare — and whatever else is left of the New Deal and the Great Society — all along?

It sure looks like it. As Glenn Greenwald says:

Before he was even inaugurated, Obama echoed the right’s manipulative rhetorical tactic: that (along with Medicare) the programme was in crisis and producing “red ink as far as the eye can see.” President-elect Obama thus vowed that these crown jewels of his party since the New Deal would be, as Politico reported, a “central part” of his efforts to reduce the deficit.

The next month, his top economic adviser, the Wall Street-friendly Larry Summers, also vowed specific benefit cuts to Time magazine. He then stacked his “deficit commission” with long-time advocates of social security cuts.

[...]

Fast forward to 2011: it is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both social security and Medicare.

This week, even as GOP leaders offered schemes to raise the debt ceiling with no cuts, the White House expressed support for the Senate’s so-called “gang of six” plan that includes substantial cuts in those programmes.

The same Democratic president who supported the transfer of $700bn to bail out Wall Street banks, who earlier this year signed an extension of Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and who has escalated America’s bankruptcy-inducing posture of Endless War, is now trying to reduce the debt by cutting benefits for America’s most vulnerable – at the exact time that economic insecurity and income inequality are at all-time highs.

If President Obama and his remaining supporters don’t like those words, all they have to do to make Glenn Greenwald eat them is to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment. And please, stop saying it’s not possible — you all said that using reconciliation to pass the Baucus-WellPoint health care bill with a public option wasn’t possible either, until Martha Coakley forced your collective hands by losing a nineteen-point lead largely because she was forced to embrace the public-option-less, anti-choice Baucus bill.

Maybe we should be calling President Obama (202-456-1111) and/or various senators or representatives to ask them this, eh?