Congressional records from 2006 on the debt ceiling

Congressional records from 2006 on the debt ceiling
rstreet.org
rstreet.org

They were not in the Tea Party, but they sure sounded like they were when they talked about raising the debt ceiling under President George W. Bush.

In 2006, Democrats illustrated their concern over the national debt and voted no on increasing the debt ceiling, according to the Congressional records.

It is yet another illustration of how partisan politics dictates how people vote, and yet another reason parties should be abolished altogether.

On Thursday, Alan Joel of Canada Free Press compared President Obama’s comments today to those he made back when George Bush was president.

Back then, instead of saying that Congress needs to pay the bills, he said that raising the debt ceiling “is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills.”

So which is it???

Joe Biden said in 2006,

“The massive scale of other nations’ accumulation of our debt has added another level of danger and complexity to our international economic relations.” He said, “We need both more awareness, and more understanding, of this fundamental threat to our economic well being and the global economy.”

So what’s changed? Under Obama, the debt is no longer a “fundamental threat?”
He anguished further,

“The President’s budget plans will bring that number to $11.8 trillion at the end of the next 5 years. This is a record of utter disregard for our Nation’s financial future. It is a record of indifference to the price our children and grandchildren will pay to redeem our debt when it comes due.”

In 2006, the debt was at 8.5 trillion. Don’t we wish it was down to 11.8 trillion now? Biden also said,

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.

Harry Reid said in 2006,

How can the Republican majority in this Congress explain to their constituents that trillions of dollars in new debt is good for our economy? How can they explain that they think it’s fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren to finance this debt through higher taxes. That’s what it will have to be. Why is it right to increase our nation’s dependence on foreign creditors?…most Americans know that increasing debt is the last thing we should be doing…. any credible economist would tell you we should be reducing debt, not increasing it. Democrats won’t be making arguments to support this legislation, which will weaken our country. Weaken our country.

In 2006, Obama said,

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. 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 5 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.”

Likewise, Hillary Clinton & a host of others were against the debt ceiling increases before they were for it (full list below).
Full speeches below:
Here is Joe Biden’s speech:

Mr. President, I was necessarily absent this morning when we considered Senator BAUCUS’s amendment to the debt limit increase. If I had been here, I would have supported the Baucus amendment. The Baucus amendment is clearly needed. The massive scale of other nations’ accumulation of our debt has added another level of danger and complexity to our international economic relations. This is a two-way street. The tsunami of debt created by the policies of this administration has to go somewhere. China is one of the major purchasers of that debt. Japan, Great Britain, and others have major holdings, too. In the short term, that has soaked up a lot of our bonds, and helped to keep interest rates down. That is a good thing. However, that has kept the Chinese currency artificially low, and ours artificially high. So they can sell their products at a discount, and our exports are more expensive. That is a bad thing.

Our trade deficit was a record $726 billion last year; $202 billion of that was our trade deficit with China alone. 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 well being 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. It took 224 years to accumulate $1 trillion of debt to other nations. It took President Bush just 5 years to more than double it. Over $3 trillion in debt, foreign debt and debt held by Americans, has been piled up by this administration. When he set out on the course that brought us to this sorry state, the President was clearly and repeatedly warned that massive tax cuts would leave us vulnerable to natural disasters, economic slowdown, or threats to our national security. ‘‘Don’t worry,’’ the President told us. ‘‘I know what I am doing.’’

After 9/11, in the face of what he has himself called the moral equivalent of the World War II, or the Cold War, he insisted that while everything else had changed, he would not change his economic policies. Facts had changed. His promise to balance the budget, his promise to pay down the debt, were proved to be false. 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. His refusal added $450 billion to the debt in 2002; it added $984 billion in 2003; it added $800 billion in 2004. And here we are again today, adding another $781 billion. With that addition, our national debt will be $8.6 trillion at the end of this year. The President’s budget plans will bring that number to $11.8 trillion at the end of the next 5 years. This is a record of utter disregard for our Nation’s financial future. It is a record of indifference to the price our children and grandchildren will pay to redeem our debt when it comes due.

History will not judge this record kindly. 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.

Here is Obama’s speech:

“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. 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 5 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. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.

“And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on. Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities. Instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans—a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about. If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.

“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.”
–Senator Barack Obama (March 16, 2006)

Harry Reid in 2006:

If my Republican friends believe that increasing our debt by almost $800 billion today and more than $3 trillion over the last five years is the right thing to do, they should be upfront about it. They should explain why they think more debt is good for the economy.

How can the Republican majority in this Congress explain to their constituents that trillions of dollars in new debt is good for our economy? How can they explain that they think it’s fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren to finance this debt through higher taxes. That’s what it will have to be. Why is it right to increase our nation’s dependence on foreign creditors?

They should explain this. Maybe they can convince the public they’re right. I doubt it. Because most Americans know that increasing debt is the last thing we should be doing. After all, I repeat, the Baby Boomers are about to retire. Under the circumstances, any credible economist would tell you we should be reducing debt, not increasing it.Democrats won’t be making argument to supper this legalization, which will weaken our country. Weaken our county.

Senator Max Baucus in 2006:

Mr. President, on December 29 of last year, I received a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, asking the Congress to increase the federal debt limit. This is extremely is important, obviously, that is, whether we should and the degree to which we should increase the federal debt limit.

But we don’t have any scheduled debate on this. And I don’t frankly think that the Leadership wants to schedule a debate on whether we should and the degree to which we should increase the Federal debt. And I think the reason is pretty clear. It’s because it’s embarrassing. It’s an embarrassment that our federal debt is growing so much and at such a rapid rate. And I say that in part because as the Secretary says, the United States will hit the limit in the middle of this month. That’s not too many days away. I hope very much that this body exercises its responsibility to do what it should. And let’s have a discussion on our fiscal situation.

How great is the debt? What should be done about it? How big is the deficit? What should be done about that? Where are we? Where are we headed? What are the implications? These are very deep, real questions that affect the financial security of the United States and which affect very deeply individual Americans. And I very much hope we have that debate, and I want to begin that debate by indicating a few of the points I think we should consider.

It is our responsibility, Mr. President, to address the implications of our huge federal debt and deficits. We have the responsibility to do that. That’s our job. It is much more or job to address all that than it is some other things I think we do here in the Senate, and I’m going to do what I can just to urge my colleagues and urge frankly anybody listening watching to consider this.

Let’s review some of the facts about the debt limit. Currently, our Treasury, the United States Treasury, is authorized to issue debt totaling $8 trillion. That’s the current statute. Last year’s budget resolution proposed an increase in that authorization of $781 billion. That’s an increase that would be the fourth-largest debt limit increase in the nation’s history.

If I might just briefly, Mr. President, just indicate what that — in a graphic way, literally, what that really means, this is a chart showing the amount of federal debt limit increases that the Congress has enacted over various years beginning back not too long ago, 1986, up to the present. And the red bars here indicate the amount of the debt increase that Congress has enacted, because our federal debt is going up so quickly. And you can see that there was a big increase back in 1990. That was a time when frankly our country was under a little bit of pressure and the debt was going up. Since then it’s been sort of periodic, and in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and 2001, we didn’t have any debt increases.

But what’s happened lately? You can see all these huge debt increases in the last four years. 2002, Congress increased the debt by $450 billion. In 2003, the congress increased the federal debt by close to $1 trillion. Next year, Congress increased the federal debt by $800 billion. That’s four-fifths of a trillion dollars in one year. Last year, we did not have to increase the debt because the $800 billion carried us over through 2005. Here we are again, having to increase the federal debt by $781 billion.

The last four years there have been big, big increases in our federal debt. Why? Because we have been borrowing so much and this country has been — the congress has been authorizing and the president has proposed — very, very large expenses. More striking, though, is the total increases that have occurred since the year 2002. During this administration, America’s debt — that is, the total of the deficits — has increased by $3 trillion. You can imagine, Mr. President, since 2002, if you add up all the increases in the federal debt, our federal debt has increased — increased — by $3 trillion. That’s not the level. The level now is $8 trillion and close to $9 trillion if the debt is increased further. But this is the increase and those increases have occurred only in the last four years.

That’s a 40 percent increase in the entire federal debt accrued by our country in its entire history. So 40 percent of the increase in the federal debt — 40 percent — has occurred in the last four years.

Who is loaning the federal government these funds? Just ask yourself that question. That’s lot of debt out there. Who owns the debt? Well, some of it is internal. The United States borrows from Social Security, and we all know that pretty soon those chickens are going to come home to roost. Can’t do that much longer. Pretty soon you have to start paying back all that’s due under Social Security. But that’s where some of it is. Much of the borrowing is from American citizens, American businesses.

But I think more alarming is the trend where much more of the borrowing is held by foreigners and by central banks in foreign countries. Japan holds two-thirds of a trillion dollars of our debt. China holds a quarter of a trillion dollars. I might add China’s reserves are scheduled to be about $1 trillion by the end of this year. The more alarming rate is the increase in debt held by foreigners, especially debt held by foreign banks. Mr. President, I tend not to be an alarmist.

In fact, sometimes people say, Max, you’re kind of easy-going here and don’t get too upset, and so on and so forth. But I am quite concerned about these trends.

I might also add some say debt held by foreigners back after World War II was extremely high too. Well, it was. But guess what? The composition of that investment held by foreigners was just that: investment. In infrastructure in the United States, in capital assets, that’s the investment that foreigners made in the United States back after World War II. The composition of that today is much different. Today’s debt is securities. To finance the borrowing and the borrowing by Uncle Sam, and we have to pay back that borrowing. We’ve got to pay interest on that borrowing.

The question is: How long can we continue to borrow all this money? That’s the basic question. How can this go on? What are the implications to our foreign policy as foreigners increase their holdings of U.S. debt? What does all that mean? What might happen? To try to be wholly analytical about it, what does all that mean? What percentage of American taxes are being used to pay interest on that debt? How much are American taxpayers paying to foreigners directly through interest on the national debt? I think that should be debated. That is something quite concerning particularly if it is a large number. These are some issues I think should be debated.

We also should remember — this is not rocket science — ordinarily there are limits on debt. Ordinarily credit card companies or businesses or banks don’t just automatically increase debt. It is not automatic. What happened in this country, in the last four years, it’s been automatic. We just increase the debt. We just increase the debt.
Just think a little bit about the limits financial institutions impose on a family that wants to borrow. Most Americans have credit cards. Most Americans know there is a maximum balance on that credit card. You can only borrow so much. After a certain limit, you can’t borrow any more. That’s it. Wouldn’t it be great if each individual could say, well, gee, we’re just going to ask you, credit card company, just to increase the debt.

Just ask to you do it. As the Congress is doing right now, just saying we’ll increase the debt limit. You know, a person can’t ask a credit card company, ask a bank willy-nilly to increase the maximum allowance on a credit card.

And there’s a good reason for that. There have to be limits. We ought to live within our means. Let’s take an ordinary business. In bank loans to a business, the bank pays a lot of attention to how that business is being run, whether it’s being run well or not. [Now] foreigners or [those] that hold the debt are asking how well we’re running our business. . . .
Mr. President, I frankly urge the majority leader to schedule a time for a full and thorough debate on this issue. I mean, this is real. This is really real. We all know that this cannot continue. We really don’t know at what time, at what point, while it’s continuing that it’s increasing the debt, there might be some cataclysmic event. We just don’t know that. But we do know with every debt limit increase, we’re accelerating the time when something nasty, bad might happen economically.

Already some countries are starting to move out of dollars into other currencies. China is starting just a little, on the margins looking maybe, on a nudge looking at holding other currencies other than the dollar. Other countries, many countries worldwide, Mr. President, are becoming more self-sufficient. They don’t need the United States as much now as they once did. And they’re becoming more independent. They’re going more their own directions, doing what they think makes sense for them economically. The bottom line is we have to live within our means. Any time we’re increasing debt limit, we’re not in our means, and I urge us to have a debate so we can know what we’re really doing.

Here is list of people who voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006:

NAYS—48
Akaka
Baucus
Bayh
Biden
Bingaman
Boxer
Burns
Byrd
Cantwell
Carper
Clinton
Coburn
Conrad
Dayton
Dodd
Dorgan
Durbin
Ensign
Feingold
Feinstein
Harkin
Inouye
Jeffords
Johnson
Kennedy
Kerry
Kohl
Landrieu
Lautenberg
Leahy
Levin
Lieberman
Lincoln
Menendez
Mikulski
Murray
Nelson (FL)
Nelson (NE)
Obama
Pryor
Reed
Reid
Rockefeller
Salazar
Sarbanes
Schumer
Stabenow
Wyden

Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and Facebook
Check out her news and political commentary on Tavern Keepers, Gather and the Examiner for news you won’t find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.


Renee Nal

Renee Nal

Renee Nal is a co-founder of TavernKeepers.com, a news and political commentary site founded by former Glenn Beck interns. She is also the National Conservative Examiner. Renee is an associate producer for Trevor Loudon's political documentary, 'The Enemies Within.'

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