Treasury says Geithner not calling for constitutional debt-limit solution

At a breakfast hosted by Politico, Geithner pulled out a copy of his pocket Constitution and read the controversial phrase of section four, which states that "The validity of the public debt of the United States ... shall not be questioned."

Some have interpreted that move as Geithner advocating for the president to ignore the debt limit. But Madison said in his letter that Geithner was merely citing the document to support his "strong conviction" that Congress must raise the debt limit.

"Like every previous Secretary of the Treasury who has confronted this question, Secretary Geithner has always viewed the debt limit as a binding legal constraint that can only be raised by Congress," Madison wrote.

The president similarly has walked back any suggestion that the 14th amendment provides an out to the debt limit debate on several occasions. However, a Reuters report detailing contingency plans being weighed at the Treasury in case the limit is not raised in time says officials have looked into the 14th Amendment matter.