After pushing the government to brink of shutdown last week, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation’s debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts.
But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt limit increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion.
At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:
June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”
May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.
November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.
March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.
September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.
Database searches revealed no demands from the four legislators that debt increases come accompanied by drastic spending cuts, as there are now. In fact, the May 2003 debt limit increase passed the Senate the same day as the $350 billion Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
When Bush was in office, the current Republican leaders viewed increasing the debt limit as vital to keeping America’s economy running. But with Obama in the White House, it’s nothing more than a political pawn.