A GOP Strategy for the Debt-Ceiling Fight
President Obama says he won't negotiate with Republicans over his proposed more than $1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling as a matter of principle because Congress "should pay the bills that they have already racked up."
Set aside the obvious—that he championed the spending and signed the measures that racked up the bills, which Republicans opposed. There may be no person in America with less moral authority than Mr. Obama on this issue. Six years ago he led a Democratic effort to defeat a $781 billion debt-ceiling increase.
On March 16, 2006, Illinois's junior Sen. Obama argued on the Senate floor that raising the debt limit was "a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills." He complained that "Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren," and added, "America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership."
Even by Washington's lax standards, Mr. Obama's complaints today reek of hypocrisy.
Mr. Obama has since expressed semi-regret for his 2006 comments. He told ABC's George Stephanopoulos last April, "I think that it's important to understand the vantage point of a senator versus the vantage point of a president. When you're a senator . . . this is always a lousy vote. Nobody likes to be tagged as having increased the debt." He acknowledged that was "making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country." But as president, the newly enlightened Mr. Obama said, "you start realizing . . . we can't play around with this stuff."
The experience didn't leave Mr. Obama with greater humility. Instead, this New Year's Day he tartly said, "We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred." Who is suggesting we don't? Not House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, or any other Republican leader....