Republicans are taking their majority in the House, and there’s a serious debate within the party over whether or not the debt ceiling should be raised. Some, like tea-party favorite Rep. Alan West are saying that it must be raised in the short term so that the government is not shut down. Others, like Rep. Michele Bachmann, are saying that leaving the debt cap in place may be the only way to force the federal government into making tough spending cuts.
Over the weekend Obama administration surrogates took the position you might expect they would. Refusing to raise the national debt ceiling would be “insane” Obama economist Austan Goolsbee said. But back in 2006, President Obama certain didn’t feel that way and indeed voted against raising the national debt ceiling:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
In 2007 and 2008 Obama showed leadership on the national debt issue by…not voting on whether or not to raise the national debt ceiling. And now, as President, he’s all for raising it.
Quite a change, no?
Clearly, the time has come for the federal government to live within its means. Republicans got an electoral mandate to go to Washington and address fiscal issues. They can start by holding the line on the national debt cap.