President Obama: Four Pinocchios on Debt Ceiling “Extortion”


Last Thursday, Glenn Kessler at The Fact Checker gave President Obama Four Pinocchios for claiming the following:

“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.”

This statement is woefully inaccurate for two reasons. Kessler addresses the first in a historical analysis worth reading in full, noting that in fact “issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt” have been part of debt ceiling hikes since the time of President Richard Nixon over 40 years ago.

Second – something that Kessler does not touch on – the President’s claim ignores what is being negotiated by the Republican Party. According to a Tweet from a Washington Post reporter, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is looking at getting tax reform, approval of the Keystone Pipeline, and a delay of Obamacare in exchange for raising the ceiling. Tea Party Patriots contacted the Majority Leader’s office to clarify this information, but as of press time had received no response.

It is beyond dishonest for the President to claim they “have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.” In fact, all three relate to both the budget and the debt. Consider:

Tax reform would boom the economy, bring people out of poverty – thus diminishing federal welfare spending – and increase federal revenues, as happened after the Reagan and Bush tax cuts (in 1986 and 2003, respectively). Less spending in the budget and lower deficits would slow growth of the national debt. .

Construction of the Keystone Pipeline would increase employment and the tax base, with the same corresponding effect on the federal budget and national debt as tax reform.

Obamacare is the nation’s most effective job-killer. Delaying it would help the economy, and would stave off billions in borrowed spending. In other words, the same general effect on the budget and debt that construction of the pipeline and tax reform would have.

Congress is constitutionally empowered to control spending. For the President to claim Congress is “extorting” the Executive Branch is like a police department accusing a state legislature of bullying through budget caps. One branch sets spending limits, the other finds a way to live within those limits.

President Obama, your authority has limits. That is something seen in the history of the United States.