President Barack Obama Monday attacked Republicans for attempting to use the debt ceiling as leverage to lower the deficit and America's $16 trillion national debt. Obama's remarks were in stark contrast to a speech he gave on the debt ceiling during his time as a U.S. senator.
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s fact checker, used the occasion of the president’s "major-league flip-flop" to award the coveted "Upside-Down Pinocchio," a ruling "rarely given" by Kessler. He also annotated the president’s 2006 speech decrying the debt ceiling's increase.
Then-Sen. Obama’s comments are below, followed by Kessler’s notes in bold:
"Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem. 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."
Here, Obama is sounding a bit Tea Partyish.
"It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is ‘‘trillion’’ with a ‘‘T.’’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers."
Obama’s language is remarkably similar to charges made by the Mitt Romney campaign against Obama during the 2012 election, though Romney mostly focused on the debt held by China. (Japan was ignored.) When Obama took office in the midst of the Great Recession, the total national debt was $10.6 trillion; it is now $16.4 trillion.
The president is now asking politicians to put aside the same questions he once asked as senator and instead vote for the debt increase without delay.
"This is why many Americans hate politics," wrote Kessler. The Washington Free Beacon gives that statement zero Pinocchios.