Everyone knows by now, I hope, that The One himself voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006, back when he was eyeing a presidential run and realized he couldn’t get elected without pretending to be a dovish, pro-gun, fiscally responsible opponent of gay marriage. Not until Guy Benson tweeted about it today, though, did I realize how sharply his rhetoric at the time conflicted with today’s Democratic talking point du jour. Obama then, in “get our house in order” mode:
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.
Jim DeMint couldn’t have said it any better. Seven years later, here’s the state of Hopenchange:
Obama said Congress would be “irresponsible” if it does not act quickly to raise the debt celing, putting the country back into another crisis. “Time is running short,” he said.
“While I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficit, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they’ve already racked up,” Obama said. “To even entertain the idea of this happening, of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd.”
“We are not a deadbeat nation,” he said of a country that owes $16 trillion and is staring at tens of trillions more in unfunded liabilities. The liberal retort to this is that, unlike the House GOP, Democrats circa 2006 had no intention of actually blocking a debt-ceiling hike. It was pure grandstanding; Obama himself later admitted as much. Okay, fine. Was the disapproving rhetoric about shifting the burden of bad choices onto future generations also grandstanding that shouldn’t be taken seriously now? Does Obama bear any responsibility for showing zero interest as president in bending his party towards the realities of entitlement reform? One of the drawbacks of the GOP’s debt-ceiling brinksmanship is that it lets the left pretend that they share the goal of serious deficit reduction and object merely to Republican tactics, as if the GOP was intent on hitting the ceiling out of some sort of nihilistic impulse or personal spite towards Obama. Hitting the ceiling is, to be sure, a desperate fiscal measure, but that’s because these are desperate times and there are way, way too many progressives who seem either not to know or not to care. When does Obama ’13 decide that Obama ’06 was right after all and gets to work on educating them?
Update: Case in point, Philip Klein notes that O’s explanation today of why S&P downgraded the U.S. last year was debt-ceiling brinksmanship. They did mention that at the time — but they mentioned something else too:
Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability.