Obama defends 2006 vote against raising the debt ceiling
October 10th, 2013
12:45 AM ET
12 months ago

Obama defends 2006 vote against raising the debt ceiling

Washington (CNN) – There is no daylight between his vote against raising the debt ceiling as a senator in 2006 and his call for Congress to increase the limit in the next 10 days, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

“Nothing has changed,” Obama told WFLA in an interview. “I voted against a debt ceiling increase at the time because I had some concerns about what President (George W.) Bush was doing.”

The president said he has “no problem” if members of Congress choose to vote against raising the legal borrowing limit now, but took issue with House Speaker John Boehner’s choice not to bring a clean bill to the floor.

Obama has consistently lobbied publicly for Congress to re-open the government and raise the ceiling before he will negotiate over larger debt and deficit issues facing the country. Boehner has said House Republicans will not give in to Obama’s demands, insisting mechanisms to rein in spending be included in any conversations about raising the debt ceiling.

At a press conference Tuesday, the president once again warned of the potential effects of failing to raise the debt ceiling before the October 17 deadline when the Treasury Department said the U.S. government will run out of money to pay its bills.

“We’ve been hearing from some Republicans in Congress that default would not be a big deal. So let me explain this,” Obama said. “If Congress refuses to raise what’s called the debt ceiling, America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years.”

But in 2006, then-freshman Sen. Obama voted against an increase in the limit over tax cuts supported by Bush and concerns over the high federal deficit.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” Obama said on the Senate floor at the time. “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. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

The president was asked about his 2006 vote in 2011, during the last debt ceiling debate, and said his shift showed the difference between serving in the Senate, where it’s a tough vote politically, and serving as commander in chief, when you realize the “full faith and credit of the United States” is at risk.

“That was just an example of a new senator 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," Obama told ABC.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. PJ

    Hippocrite , thy name is Obama.

    October 10, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  2. Namewinchwster

    Impeach and imprison the hypocrite already

    October 10, 2013 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  3. Be Fuddled

    So basically Boehner and Bush/Cheyney were OK back then with reducing taxes on the wealthy and raising the debt ceiling to pay for it?

    October 10, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  4. Thomas

    John Boehner’ bring a clean bill to the floor ! You have the votes .

    Obama told WFLA in an interview. “I voted against a debt ceiling increase at the time because I had some concerns about what President (George W.) Bush was doing.”

    Bush didn't have a clue , Dose anybody remember GW , The economy is strong speech ? Then CRASH !

    October 10, 2013 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    I believe very fundamentally in the KISS technique = KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!!
    So the budget deficit at present is $400-600 bn p.a. so to fund the government for a year that's how much the debt limit has to increase.
    If you do not someone international bond holders or local suppliers to government or dependents thereon like social security food stamps will be hit to the tune of $400-600/12 per month of not getting the money the need that's $32.5bn to $50bn per month taken out of the US economy Ouch!!
    Oh yes clever guys you apply all government surplus income to paying interest only on debt.. wonderful!! except oops some debt requires repayment to do that you have to borrow to replace!!
    Yah all think you gonna get the same low interest rate!!??
    This is below economics 101 thinking... grow up.
    If you wanna balance the budget you need something that saves $400 t0 600 bn p.a in spending or entitlement cuts
    That's $4- 6 trillion over 10 years. Again grow up with tax reform it might be doable without No way.
    Or I challenge republicans to devise the budget that does it.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    October 10, 2013 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  6. The Elephant in The Room

    That's America. You vote your conscience. Senator Barack Obama did; he lost in the vote. But he didn't cause the economy to crash and there was never any chance that he was causing/ contributing to a default. So if 215 Republicans want to vote AGAINST a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling extension, great. The point is, put it a Majority Rules democratic vote and be held accountable. Maybe 1 of those 215 can grow up to be Barack Obam.a and become President too.

    October 10, 2013 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    ----you need to remember two things here, one, GOP raised because it was white president, two, raised because they want WAR–not education, infrastructure, clean, independent energy.

    October 10, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  8. MaryM

    Remember those WARS that Bush started and did not put in the Budget

    October 10, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  9. Free Man in the Republlic of Texas

    "I" have ONLY added SIX TRILLION
    in five years.

    LET "ME" BE CLEAR
    WE can do better than that...
    Yes WE Can

    "I" MUST have a BLANK CHECK
    so "I" can SPEND MORE on "MY" people

    October 10, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  10. 82ndABNVET

    “Nothing has changed,” Obama told WFLA in an interview. “I voted against a debt ceiling increase at the time because I had some concerns about what President (George W.) Bush was doing.”

    Lol. And we have concerns about what you are doing Mr President. Our national debt has increased from just shy of $10 trillion to hovering right under $17 trillion and you have only been in office for just over 4.5 years. By the time you leave office, we should be well over $20 trillion, thus you would have DOUBLED our national debt in 8 years, what took FOREVER to even get to $9 trillion and some change.

    That is why we need to cut spending. That is why you need to sit down with the Right.

    Have you noticed your approval ratings? 37%. It is now at the lowest point of your Presidency. I would argue that by the time the budget and debt ceiling is delt with you might be at 34%. Not too good for the Democrat party if you ask me.

    October 10, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  11. Catmandew

    Obama another failure in leadership! You've now done exactly what you opposed and proven you are also a failure. You've let this continuing resolution government go on far too long. You've never passed a budget and now our children and grandchildren will be paying for your failures! More proof your agenda stinks.

    October 10, 2013 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  12. Sam Stewart

    “I voted against a debt ceiling increase at the time because I had some concerns about what President (George W.) Bush was doing.”

    Maybe they have a problem with you are doing Mr . President....

    October 10, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  13. Martin Angell

    Spending cuts are needed badly. I wish Obama and Reid would join Tea Party folks to cut down the size, scope and spending of the government. This is going to bring the destruction of America, and its happening right before our very eyes.

    October 10, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |