Those Pesky Debt Ceiling Votes

Government shutdown averted, the next major battle in Washington will be over raising the federal government's debt ceiling. Republicans are threatening to vote against it unless Democrats agree to major spending cuts. The government, they say, cannot continue its free-spending ways.

A failure to raise the debt ceiling would lead to an unprecedented default that could have disastrous effects. And the Obama Administration has cautioned Republicans not to "play chicken" with the economy.

So it's been a little awkward explaining away Senator Barack Obama's vote against raising the debt ceiling, in 2006, during the Bush Administration. Obama, at the time, said:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. ... 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." 

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney says Obama now thinks his 2006 vote was a mistake.

Well, that got Michael Warren of the conservative Weekly Standard wondering about all the other Democratic senators who voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006 and 2007 - Rhode Island's Jack Reed, among them (Senator Lincoln Chafee in 2006 and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in 2007 voted "yes").

It's a bit of a gotcha question - senators from the minority party, as the Associated Press notes, often withhold their votes to criticize the administration or wring concessions from it. But amid all the Democratic rhetoric at the moment, it's a reasonable query. N4N has a call into Senator Reed's office. I'll post any response.

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