"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Democrats Can’t Seem To Agree On How To Approach Debt Limit

April 18th, 2011 by mopns · No Comments

As Congress begins to focus on the next major fiscal issue, whether to raise the nation’s debt limit, Democrats can’t seem to agree on how to approach the issue, even as they fall all over themselves to explain why they think it’s vital to raise the limit now but eagerly voted against doing so a few years ago.

In their efforts to stress how important they think raising the debt limit is, Democrat leaders are scrambling to explain away their past votes against raising it, or outright saying it was a “mistake.” Last Thursday, President Obama sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and told him that in 2006 when he voted against raising the debt limit, it was “political.” Obama said, “[T]hat was just a example of a new Senator, you know, making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country.  And I’m the first one to acknowledge it.” Earlier in the day, Harry Reid was explaining his own previous “political” position on the debt limit. In an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, Reid said, “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m kinda embarrassed I did. It was a political maneuver by we Democrats. The Republicans were in power – there were more of them. . . . The president voted when he was in the Senate the same way. I heard him apologize for it.” And The Washington Post reported, “House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that his previous votes against raising the country’s debt limit were ‘a mistake.’ The Maryland Democrat urged Republicans not to ‘hold hostage the full faith and credit of the United States’ by refusing to support raising the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied by a plan to reduce the national deficit. ‘Let me be the first to observe that I have voted against the debt limit in the past. That was a mistake,’ Hoyer said at his weekly roundtable with reporters.”

Yet now that Democrats are saying that it’s important for the country that Congress raise the debt ceiling, they seem to expect that be done without any sort of accompanying efforts to rein in America’s staggering debt. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “[W]e believe that we should move quickly to raise the debt limit and we support a clean piece of legislation to do that.” Politico reported last week, “Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday he wants a clean vote to raise the debt ceiling.” Reid said, “We don’t have to attach anything. It’s a debate. We can do it separate to that.”

Of course, Republicans have been saying for weeks that something significant needs to be done about debt and spending in connection with consideration of the debt ceiling. But now many Democrats are saying something similar. Last week Politico wrote, “A number of Senate Democrats are wary of the White House’s call to keep the debt-limit vote free of conditions, including those worried that the vote will be a political albatross in their 2012 election bids . . . .” Last month, The Hill reported, “Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will not vote to raise the debt ceiling this spring unless it’s tied to a long-term deficit reduction plan, he’ll say Monday in a speech.” Manchin said, “We must get our fiscal house in order. We must be honest about what we value and what we need to spend your taxpayer dollars on — not what just sounds good. . . . That is why I will vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess.” Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) told The Washington Post this week, “It’s not just Republicans. A lot of Democrats, including myself, are not going to vote to raise the national debt ceiling unless there is something concrete, real, tough done to guarantee that the debt itself will be reduced in the coming years.” And according to Politico, “‘Now it’s time to have that vote tied in with getting some progress on the long-term debt for the country,’ said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who initially held out her vote in 2010 to increase the debt ceiling until Obama agreed to create a bipartisan fiscal commission.”

Related:

CNBC: S&P Affirms US AAA Rating, Cuts Outlook to Negative

Rasmussen Reports: Just 9% Say A Balanced Budget Is Very Likely In Their Lifetimes

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