Speaking Jan. 1 at the White House at 11:20 p.m., less than an hour after the House voted 257 to 167 to approve new tax hikes, President Barack Obama announced that he will assert the authority to raise the debt ceiling for spending approved by Congress.

“One last point I want to make,” said the president flanked by Vice-President Joseph R. Biden Jr., whose Capitol Hill summitry closed the deal on a “fiscal cliff” compromise. “I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills, they have already racked up through the laws they have passed.

This is a critical pivot for the president, who previously dismissed the idea floated among liberals that Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, one of the three amendments passed at the end of the Civil War, authorizes the executive to borrow the funds to make good federal debt payments.

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