“I think if you look at the history, getting votes for the debt ceiling is always difficult, and budgets in this town are always difficult.”
— President Obama, news conference, Jan. 14, 2013
“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. … I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
— Then-Sen. Barack Obama, floor speech in the Senate, March 16, 2006
As the saying goes, “where you stand depends on where you sit.” This is certainly true of the votes to boost the national debt limit, where almost by tradition, the party not holding the presidency refused to support an increase in the debt limit. (One big exception, as we have noted, is in 1953 during the Eisenhower presidency.)
The president has acknowledged that his previous vote against the debt limit was “a political vote.” On Monday, at a news conference, he urged lawmakers to boost the debt limit without conditions: “We’re going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way, rather than just through the lens of politics.” (In other words, don’t do what I did back when I was a lawmaker.)
The young senator from Illinois presumably did not want to buck the rest of his party establishment in voting for increasing the debt limit — not when there were just enough Republicans willing to support a president from their own party. But Obama would be on much more solid ground today if he had given a speech back in 2006 that sounded more like his news conference in 2013.
For making an argument that the president now decries as politics, he earns the upside-down Pinocchio, signifying a major-league flip-flop. (We have rarely given this ruling, but are eager for other examples from readers.)
The Washington Free Beacon quips:
The president is now asking politicians to put aside the same questions he once asked as senator and instead vote for the debt increase without delay.
“This is why many Americans hate politics,” wrote Kessler. The Washington Free Beacon gives that statement zero Pinocchios.