Politicians rarely like to take tough votes, but a lot of House Republicans did just that last summer when they agreed to a compromise with President Obama on raising the debt ceiling.
Now many of those same Republicans are trying to pretend like it never happened.
The Republican led-House passed a resolution Wednesday registering its disapproval of the president’s efforts to raise the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion this year. But the vote was all smoke and mirrors in an election year because, in voting for the deal last summer, Congress essentially gave the president the power to raise the debt ceiling on his own.
To thwart him, two-thirds of both the House and Senate would have to oppose him. The numbers to do that aren’t there.
Among the area House members who approved the debt ceiling deal, then on Wednesday basically said, “Never mind,” were: Republicans Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo of Kansas, and Republicans Sam Graves, Billy Long, Jo Ann Emerson and Blaine Leutkemeyer of Missouri
But never underestimate the ability of members of Congress to rewrite history and gloss over any inconvenient facts.
For instance: during the summer-long debate over the debt ceiling, opponents said that government borrowing had to stop and that the culture of Washington had to change. The impression left was that by not raising it, they were stopping the government from spending more money.
Hold the phone. The debt ceiling is the limit on how much money the government can legally borrow. Raising it does not mean the government would be giving itself more money to spend on all kinds of new stuff.
Having to raise the debt ceiling means that the government needs more money to pay for the stuff that Congress has already purchased, as well has for past borrowing, tax cuts, etc.
The White House – any White House, Democratic or Republican – might ask for money for this program or that, but it’s Congress that agrees to spend it. Or not.