It should surprise no one that Democrats are having a hard time getting Republicans to join them in committing political “harry carry” by voting to raise the debt ceiling. Polls show
raising the debt ceiling is politically toxic and if there’s one principle to which Democrats are sure to adhere it is government by poll.
So, as Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer bombard Republicans with claims that not voting to raise the debt ceiling is “unconscionable” and “irresponsible” let’s take a look at their records on the issue.
THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), 2006: “The tsunami of debt created by the policies of this administration has to go somewhere. … But as the rest of the world copes with the waves of U.S. debt, we are now all in the same leaky boat. There is just so much of our debt other nations want to hold. The more of it they accumulate, the closer we are to the day when they will not want any more. When that happens, slowly or rapidly, our interest rates will go up, the value of their U.S. bonds will drop, and we will all have big problems. We need both more awareness, and more understanding, of this fundamental threat to our economic wellbeing and the global economy. But the roots of that threat lie in the disastrous policies of this administration. Because this massive accumulation of debt was predicted, because it was foreseeable, because it was unnecessary, because it was the result of willful and reckless disregard for the warnings that were given and for the fundamentals of economic management, I am voting against the debt limit increase. In the 5 years he has been in office, President Bush has added more to our foreign debt that the 42 Presidents before him. … But he refused to take responsibility for his policies. He refused to admit that a changed world demanded a change of course. His refusal has pushed us deeper and deeper into the hole. … My vote against the debt limit increase cannot change the fact that we have incurred this debt already, and will no doubt incur more. It is a statement that I refuse to be associated with the policies that brought us to this point.” (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S2239-2240, 3/16/2006)
THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), 2004: “I was not able to participate in today’s debate and vote on the extension of the national debt limit. I was attending the funeral of a great civil rights leader in Delaware, Jane E. Mitchell. Had I been here to vote, Mr. President, I would have cast a symbolic vote against an extension of the debt limit. Today’s fiscal mess, the transformation of historic surpluses into record deficits, is not an accident. It is the inevitable outcome of policies that consistently ignored evidence and experience. When we launched out on a course of tax cutting, with expanding domestic and international obligations and responsibilities, many of us in Congress argued that we could not afford to do everything, that we needed a fiscal policy that matched our revenues with our expenditures. … We are here today because that advice was ignored, those hard choices were ducked, and the bill for our decisions will be sent to our children and grandchildren, in the form of the additional debt we will authorize today. It did not have to be this way, Mr. President. In the next Congress, the threat of massive deficits, which have made us increasingly dependent of foreign lenders to stay afloat, will still be with us. My symbolic vote against raising the debt limit would have been a protest of the policies that have brought us to this point, and a demand that we change course.” (Sen. Biden, Congressional Record, S11418, 11/17/2004)
In 2003 then-Sen. Biden voted against raising the debt ceiling. (H.J. Res. 51, Roll Call Vote #202: Joint Resolution Passed 53-44; R 50-1; D 2-43, I 1-0, 5/23/2003; Biden voted Nay)
And, as Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s office pointed out, Chuck Schumer had no problem voting against a debt limit increase and “playing political games” by running ads about it in 2006.
NOW: SENATE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “As default gets closer and closer to becoming a reality, our Republican colleagues will be forced to ask themselves how long they are going to keep playing political games while the economic stability of our country is at risk.” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 9/29/2021)
THEN: SENATE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “With [then-President] Obama’s recently-expressed regrets about a vote against raising the federal debt limit, and Chuck Schumer’s warning that those who oppose it are playing with fire, a source reminds … that Schumer was one of the 44 Democrats who, in a party-line vote, voted against raising the debt limit in 2006. That year, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- which Schumer chaired -- aired the attack above on Ohio’s [then-Sen.] Mike DeWine [R-OH]. ‘Did you know Mike DeWine voted to raise the national debt to $9 trillion?’ the ad’s narrator asks puzzled and alarmed Cincinnatians. ‘Did you know that we’re borrowing $2 billion a day from China and other countries to pay for that?’” (“Debt Limit Politics,” Politico’s Ben Smith Blog, 4/12/2011)
What’s the bottom line?
In 2006, every Democrat voted against raising the debt limit, and Republicans were vaporized in the 2006 mid-term elections. Especially going into a crucial election year, Republicans should not get suckered into voting to raise the debt ceiling when Democrats can be made do it with their majority and also be made to own the political consequences.
$3.5 trillion budget resolution
Joe Biden agenda