The 14th Amendment is more-or-less the Swiss Army amendment of the US Constitution. It defines citizenship, extends constitutional protections to state constitutions, and so on. Lately, it’s become popular to posit that it also holds the key to avoiding a default of US credit. Specifically, Section 4 reads
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. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
That last bit is not particularly relevant right now. But the first part (in bold) — it is said — could be. President Obama could cite that portion of the 14th Amendment and direct the agencies of the United States Government to issue debt pursuant to the existing budget, regardless of whether that debt exceeds the amount authorized under the debt ceiling. Voila! Crisis averted! (See, for example, this piece by Jonathan Zasloff in the Washington Monthly.)
This 14th Amendment option is decisive, elegant — and completely irrelevant.