It's 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16 -- an hour before the United States goes over the debt ceiling and defaults on its debts for the first time in its 237-year history.
House Speaker John Boehner has refused to lower the Tea Party's gun from the nation's head, insisting for more than two weeks that Republicans be given the authority to rewrite and repeal legislation they don't like as a condition for allowing the government to function and paying America's bills. Unwilling to allow a small band of extremists to hold the nation hostage and govern by extortion -- and mindful of the disastrous precedent that negotiating with political terrorists would set for the future of our democracy -- President Barack Obama has likewise not budged.
The consequences of the looming default would be catastrophic: the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury bonds -- the foundations of the global financial system -- would be ravaged, markets across the globe shaken, the U.S. and world economies would fall into a recession or perhaps even a depression, and millions of Americans might stop receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits.
In the eleventh hour, facing an impending worldwide financial collapse, President Obama makes the critical decision to act unilaterally and raise the debt ceiling on his own -- perhaps through an executive order, invoking emergency executive powers under the Constitution, or even by minting the trillion-dollar coin. After all, the U.S. Constitution states that "[t]he validity of the public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned."
But because the Constitution also explicitly grants Congress, rather than the executive, with the power of the purse, this hypothetical scenario triggers a constitutional crisis and hands Republicans the perfect opportunity to do what they've been jonesing to do since the day he was inaugurated: charge the President with high crimes and misdemeanors and remove him from office.