Our View: Debt ceiling
Posted: January 16, 2013
Almost seven years ago, when he was still a callow freshman senator, Barack Obama railed against raising the debt limit, employing terminology currently being used by congressional opponents.
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” said Mr. Obama on March 16, 2006.
“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.”
Aside from the fact Mr. Obama committed a common mistake — the nation, now as then, can and will pay its bills; there’s more than enough monthly revenue to cover debt service — he was right on a number of points regarding “reckless” spending and the necessity of seeking what amounts to foreign aid to fund other federal functions, thus tying America “to the whims of foreign leaders” who may not have our best interests at heart.
Even if he didn’t mean it.
And, by all admission, he didn’t mean it. Apparently, when he took that stand back then against raising the debt limit from $8.18 trillion to $8.96 trillion, it was merely for show, for political purposes. He was just a freshman senator going on the record.
Now that he’s president, as Mr. Obama said as far back as April 2011, “you start realizing, ‘You know what? We can’t play around with this stuff.’” Now, with the national debt almost double what it was back in March 2006, Mr. Obama is taking this issue seriously. He’s not “playing around.”
Except that he is. He really is. The cogent arguments he once made, for instance, about debt service draining money that could be spent on, say infrastructure initiatives no longer boast relevance or resonance. Not when there’s spending to be done — his spending — deficits be damned. Not when, as the New York Post’s John Podhoretz writes, he’s deemed America “Too Big To Fail.”
Hence, the president who once rasped against recklessness will not stoop to conquer. He’ll not negotiate with Republicans making Obama-circa-2006 arguments. That, he says, is akin to be being “held hostage,” forced to pay “ransom” to GOP-ers who are doing nothing more than placing “a gun to the head” of the American people.
Well, given those recent events in Newtown, Conn., that gun analogy seems wantonly inappropriate — where’s the “civility,” Mr. President, and where’s the outrage, mainstream media? — but then, most everything the president said vis-a-vis the fisc on Monday seemed overly profligate.
Imagine this, he wants to borrow more money from China merely to pay China for the money we’ve already borrowed . . . so we can borrow more in the future.
Grandstander or not, the Obama of 2006 wouldn’t have stood for that.