Give that man four pinnochios. Never mind. WaPO’s “Fact Checker,” Glenn Kessler, already did.
At issue is the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, funding of which many congressional Republicans would like to tie to the upcoming vote to extend the debt ceiling. Speaking before the Business Roundtable on Wednesday, the president indignantly proclaimed:
You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.
Kessler reacts: “When a president makes a lawyerly comment, it’s time to start looking for the trap door. At first President Obama uses a sweeping ‘never in the history of the United States’ but then he concludes with a caveat; ‘nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.’”
Not so fast, says Kessler, who notes that using the debt ceiling as leverage to extract concessions from the executive branch dates back over half a century. And Republicans have not been the sole “culprit” (if that is the correct word) in these “hostage takings” (and that is definitely the incorrect term).
In 1953, during the administration of Republican president Dwight Eisenhower, Democratic Sen. Harry F. Byrd of Virginia inveighed against raising the debt limit out of skepticism over Eisenhower’s plans to build a national highway system. Today the U.S. interstate system stands not only as one of the great civil engineering achievements of the twentieth century but as a driver of the modern economy as we know it. General Motors, much beloved of the Obama administration (and forever beholden to American taxpayers, whose money was used to salvage the automaker from financial collapse), would never have achieved the status it once held were it not for Ike’s vision.
But I digress. “Clearly,” Kessler writes, “Obama’s sweeping statement does not stand up to scrutiny,” adding that “[t]ime and again, lawmakers have used the ‘must-pass’ nature of the debt limit to force changes in unrelated laws.”
But never mind that. If the president is going to whine about abuses of parliamentary procedure, he might want to recall that Senate Democrats played fast and loose with the rules in 2010 to bring a vote of cloture on a bill that lacked the needed three fifths-majority to end a fillibuster. They invoked the process of reconciliation, which is ordinarily reserved for matter of budget, so that a simple majority of votes would suffice. And what was the bill the Dems were seeking to push through by any measures necessary? The Affordable Care Act, of course.
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