As Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Congressional Republicans bring the nation closer to the brink of a default, they are vowing to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to demands for everything from the destruction of the Affordable Care Act to a constitutional amendment. But Boehner, Cantor, and the GOP leadership voted for five separate debt limit increases during George W. Bush’s presidency, requiring no similar concessions.
In November 2004, 104 Republican Representatives and Senators who are still serving today voted for an $800 billion increase in the federal debt ceiling, with no strings attached. Other increases in 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007, requested by the Bush administration, were enthusiastically backed by his Republican allies.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joint Economic Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) were among the most vocal supporters of debt limit increases between 2002 and 2006. They defended an increase as not only necessary, but also a basic matter of responsibility and good governance.
Watch them explain the issue, in their own words:
Grassley’s reasoning in 2006 was almost identical to President Obama’s rationale for a clean increase in 2013. “Raising the debt limit is necessary to preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government,” the Iowa Republican explained. “We cannot as a Congress pass spending bills and tax bills and then refuse to pay our bills. Refusing to raise the debt limit is like refusing to pay your credit card bill — after you’ve used your credit card.”
“The time to control the deficits and debt is when we are voting on the spending bills and the tax bills that create it,” Grassley concluded. “Raising the debt limit is about meeting the obligations we have already incurred. We must meet our obligations.”
In total, Congress raised the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion during Bush’s eight years in the White House.