Byron York

These days, Obama's partisans defend that '06 vote by pointing out that Democrats weren't in control back then and couldn't have actually blocked a debt limit increase even if they had wanted to. So Obama could "play around" with the vote.

But did Obama's words sound like a man who was playing around? In that '06 Senate speech, he made a cogent and convincing case against deficits. If he didn't believe a word of it, he didn't show it.

And now, under his own administration, the problem is so much worse. The budget deficit that headed from $248 billion to $160 billion in 2006 and 2007 shot up to $458 billion in 2008 and $1.4 trillion in 2009 as the economic crisis took hold and Obama became president.

In 2010, the deficit was $1.3 trillion, then another $1.3 trillion in 2011, then $1.1 trillion in 2012. It's projected to be above $1 trillion again in 2013, extending Obama's record of presiding over unprecedented trillion-plus deficits.

And now President Obama, who in 2006 balked at raising the debt ceiling to $8.965 trillion, is demanding that Congress, without question, negotiation, or condition, raise the debt ceiling somewhere far above its current $16.4 trillion.

"There is ... no ready, credible solution, other than Congress either give me the authority to raise the debt ceiling, or exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raise the debt ceiling," Obama said at his recent news conference. "We are not a deadbeat nation."

But the interest on the debt, now vastly higher than when Obama addressed the issue in 2006, is still money that can't be used for education, transportation and other priorities. And the money borrowed from other countries, also vastly more than in '06, leaves the U.S. even more at the whims of foreign leaders.

Did the president believe what he said back then, or does he believe what he is saying now? Who knows? But perhaps the Barack Obama of 2013 should listen to the Barack Obama of 2006. He was an emerging Democratic superstar back then. And no wonder -- he made a lot of sense.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner


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