Debt ceiling hikes included policy ideas in the past
October 7th, 2013
07:28 PM ET
1 year ago

Debt ceiling hikes included policy ideas in the past

(CNN) - While the White House vows it doesn't want to set a precedent negotiating policy proposals to be included in a debt ceiling increase — calling it extortion - there have been discussions in the past surrounding such a hike and Congress has attached other issues to raising the limit a number of times.

The House and Senate, in November 1989, agreed as part of a debt ceiling increase to repeal a tax rule approved three years earlier barring discrimination in employer-paid health insurance plans.

After threats of default and many meetings between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in August 2011, an increase in the debt ceiling in three stages was included in the Budget Control Act.

That law imposed automatic spending reductions known as sequester, established a joint committee on deficit reduction, and required a vote on a balanced-budget amendment.

There also were votes in the 1970s and 1980s on the debt limit, which included requirements for a balanced budget vote, a cigarette tax and the push for an alternative minimum tax.

“Listen, the debt limit is right around the corner. The president is saying, ‘I won't negotiate. I won't have a conversation’ even though President (Ronald) Reagan negotiated with Democrats who controlled the Congress back then, even though President George Herbert Walker Bush had a conversation about raising the debt limit.

“During the Clinton administration, there were three fights over the debt limit,” House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) told ABC News on Sunday. “I don't want the United States to default on its debt. But I'm not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up. It would be irresponsible of me to do this.”

The White House says, unlike previous occasions, this time there are preconditions set by the Republicans attached to any debt ceiling hike.

Some House conservatives still want to see changes in Obamacare tied to any hike, while Boehner wants discussions relating to entitlements and the deficit.

For his part, Obama has said he will negotiate over the budget and other issues but will not tie that to the debt ceiling because of a precedent it will set.

“What I’ve said is that I cannot do that under the threat that if Republicans don’t get 100 percent of their way, they’re going to either shut down the government or they are going to default on America’s debt so that America for the first time in history does not pay its bills. That is not something I will do. We’re not going to establish that pattern,” Obama said on Monday.

“We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of economic catastrophe that economists and CEOs increasingly warn would result if Congress chose to default on America’s obligations,” he said.

Since March 1962, Congress has enacted 77 separate changes to the debt limit, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. Between April 1993 and this year, there were 15 increases approved by Congress.

White House spokesman Jay Carney argued Monday the 2011 increase, which came after Republicans demanded a reduction in federal spending, included the deep automatic, across-the-board sequester cuts that he said have hurt the economy.

“Only in 2011 was a process engaged in where one party decided to use the raising of the debt ceiling as leverage to try to get political demands to the point where they threatened default,” Carney said. “There were profound negative consequences to that strategy. And that is why the president has taken the position he’s taken.”

Kevin Hassett and Abby McCloskey of the American Enterprise Institute last week wrote in a column for the Wall Street Journal 60% of debt limit increases that included other legislative items came in Democratic Congresses while 15% came in Republican-led ones and the remaining 25% were in divided ones.

“Debt-limit votes have provided a regular vehicle for legislation. Divided governments have a difficult time passing anything. Since the consequences of government default are so severe, debt-limit legislation has always passed in the end, and it has often included important additional legislative accomplishments,” the pair wrote.


Filed under: Congress • national debt • White House
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. ED1

    Obama should know about extortion he is the King along with all his Democrat buddies.

    October 7, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    The ACA is law! Negotiation is one thing but extortion is another.

    October 7, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. tabeth

    Money for Iraq war: Yes
    Money for Afghanistan: Yes
    Money for Star War: Yes
    American Mortgage crisis: We do not care
    Help in Saint Catherine: We do not care
    Money for Obama care : No, defund it or we shut down the government

    October 7, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. tabeth

    They want a civil war in America then blame Obama

    October 7, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  5. Steve

    If Boehner is so sure that he doesn't have the votes; then he should call the President's bluff and have an up or down vote. What is wrong with that? If Boehner is right, then he has the upper hand. If he is wrong the Shutdown ends and possibly the debt ceiling get's raised as well taking a vote.

    October 7, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. shaun

    Why doesn't anyone remember is was the Obama Administration that came up with sequestration. Tim Geithner was using the Reagan administration to get the Republicans to agree. If they declined the sequestration Obama and his minions would say " Reagan thought it was a good idea when he was president so now you don't like Reagan?" The plan backfired when the Republicans embraced it.

    October 7, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. tom l

    Yikes! Kevin Bohn is gonna get in big trouble. It's a good thing the govt is shut otherwise the NSA might have a new assignment....

    October 7, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  8. Thomas

    ” House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) told ABC News on Sunday. “I don't want the United States to default on its debt. But I'm not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up. It would be irresponsible of me to do this.”

    When did the speaker of the house become responsible , after President Obama was elected ? He sure wasn't very responsible when GW Bush was in office . He wasn't speaker then , yet when you look at his voting record , he can't very well say he was responsible .

    October 7, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    There is nothing wrong with skating on thin ice. You measured the span and thickness of the ice, and now determined its tensile strength. Then you worked in your weight distribution into the equation, and about now your feeling pretty confident. Go on, take a step. No cracks. Now go on take the gold brick across the river so the Bursar can pay our bills. Hehe.

    October 7, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Jane

    For the last 100 years, high taxes on the rich, investment in infrastructure and moderate Medicaid have resulted in the best economies for the middle class. So, why aren't we doing that.
    Yeah, Medicare is out of control because we won't manage it like other countries do theirs where they do a probability of cure to cost analysis to manage what is decided on as the pool. Plus, to much unnecessary prescriptions, surgeries and tests. Programs like IBM,s Watson which is being programmed with all the latest studies and can give better than doc recommendations need to be implemented.
    News flash, we can't live forever and corporations and government can no longer afford to pay for whatever we want in medicine. Rationing to manage it is going to be the rule.

    However, by being harder nosed on welfare and food stamps and managing medical costs and making small tweaks to social security along with going back to the past for taxes will give us the money to invest, keep a social net and spark prosperity again.

    October 7, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. aspenware

    Thanks for providing some balanced reporting. I really long for articles where I can learn about the issues. In the past several years I have struggled to find sources that provide this balance. Over the past few months I feel CNN online has been doing a much better job of providing balanced reporting. I know it comes down to economics for you but know there are folks out here who appreciate just getting the news without the biases.

    October 7, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Stay strong and focused Mr. President. We have your back!

    October 7, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    Republicans will be extinct with 2014 elections. These guys are acting like Al Queda.

    October 7, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. Bernard obryant

    GOvt do this every time it reach it point

    October 7, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  15. Stormin82

    Debt ceiling needs to be raised – the US current has 60 million social security and medicare recipients which is projected to increase to 72 million beneficiaries. Are members of the US House of Representatives looking to reduce the social security benefits and medicare coverage to 20 percent of the population if the debt ceiling is not raised. I guess this was the group Romney was discussing when he commented about the 47% who don't pay income taxes ?

    October 7, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  16. 22

    There's no negotiating with extortionists,they will only raise the ransomed the next time.They just might shut down the government because they don't like the result of an election!

    October 7, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. paofpa

    Raise taxes in time of plenty vs. a cut. It is not currently a cure but it will make common sense in the future to control debt. Today, laying off people does not help to put people back to work.

    October 7, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. Sherwood

    Military industrial complex

    Just sayin

    October 7, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  19. Chris

    Having a policy discussion and attaching it to a debt limit bill is one thing. Holding it hostage is a terroristic threat and such tactics should not be considered.

    October 7, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. Johnny DC

    "We don't like negotiating unless we have absolutely nothing to lose. Just trust us." - Liberals

    October 7, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    BIG difference

    The republican presidents had a reasonable and responsible House to negotiate with.

    This president is dealing with a bunch of whaco-birds. (as defined by a republican)

    October 7, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  22. VOR

    You can't compare such an outrageous demand such as defunding the ACA to other negotiations in the past. And that demand is not a compromise. They are demanding the moon, and they will never get it. It is an untenable political ploy to label such a thing a compromise, when it's not even the least bit realistic. It's analogous to them asking to defund Social Security...YES IT IS.

    October 7, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  23. Mike Mitchell

    This CNN story is 100% false and written by a legislative naif. NEVER NEVER NEVER has the debt ceiling been used to push a controversial policy against a President;s wishes by threatening the default on the national debt.

    The debt ceiling limits in teh past were used as places to park non-controversial things that everyone agreed to, and which only needed any old bill to be attached to. There were not used in debt or policy fights.

    What do you expect when CNN parrots the AEI, a conservative outfit that is as dishonest as they come.

    October 7, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  24. Thomas

    China warns US to agree debt deal
    A senior Chinese official warns that the "clock is ticking" to avoid a US default that could harm China's economic interests and the global economy.

    Mr. Speaker , this Bud's for you !

    October 8, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  25. Daze Bell

    What? You mean the President didn't get his way just by snapping his fingers and demanding his will be done? I find that very difficult to believe.

    October 8, 2013 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
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