Skip to main content

Gingrich: Obama's big debt limit deception

By Newt Gingrich, CNN Contributor
September 20, 2013 -- Updated 1947 GMT (0347 HKT)
A Park Service police officer stands guard in front of the Lincoln Memorial during a partial shutdown of the federal government in November 1995. Many government services and agencies were closed at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 as President Bill Clinton battled a Republican-led Congress over spending levels. A Park Service police officer stands guard in front of the Lincoln Memorial during a partial shutdown of the federal government in November 1995. Many government services and agencies were closed at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 as President Bill Clinton battled a Republican-led Congress over spending levels.
HIDE CAPTION
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
The last government shutdown
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich says Obama wrongly claims debt limit hasn't been subject to negotiations
  • He says president is wrong in saying Obamacare isn't relevant to the budget
  • Gingrich says there's long history of presidents negotiating with Congress on debt limit
  • Gingrich: If Obama can negotiate with Putin and al-Assad, he should negotiate with Congress

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-cost of CNN's new "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays. A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.

(CNN) -- As a historian and a former speaker of the House who negotiated successfully through two government shutdowns, a successful welfare reform bill, the first tax cut in 16 years and four balanced budgets, I am offended and a little frightened by President Barack Obama's deliberate dishonesty about the debt ceiling.

On Wednesday, speaking to the Business Roundtable, Obama said:

"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."

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

This is just plain false, and he knows it. That he would say something so factually false in a prepared text is very worrisome.

First of all, issues such as Obamacare don't have "nothing to do with the budget" and the idea that it is unusual for Congress to bring them into the debt ceiling debate is absurd. Far from having "nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt," Obamacare is a major part of the budget, and it is now projected to cost twice what the president promised.

The president's historical claim is completely wrong, as well. Let's set the record straight.

Debt ceilings have been used since President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s to enable conservatives to put limits on government spending.

GOP Obamacare stance may cause shutdown
GOP sets vote on spending plan
Legislators fired up over Obamacare
Cutter: Gun increase breaks all logic

The concept of using the debt ceiling as a vehicle to force negotiations really took off under President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s.

Under President Ronald Reagan, one of the most important changes in spending, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, was attached to a debt ceiling provision.

Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also signed debt limit increases tied to spending agreements. When we reached a deal to balance the budget 1997, it included a debt limit increase.

As Speaker John Boehner pointed out, "In fact, every major effort to deal with the deficit over the past 30 years has been tied to the debt limit."

Of course, Obama himself has signed a debt ceiling increase with amendments attached to it.

This is not a dictatorship. The president cannot dictate. The structure of our Constitution requires negotiations between the president and the Congress to get anything done.

It is very troubling that the president would adopt a "no-negotiation" strategy and then deceive the American people about the history of negotiations on the debt ceiling. It is especially bizarre that Obama eagerly negotiates with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad but considers the elected leaders of the American Congress unworthy negotiators.

As Reagan said in his 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing": "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

Anyone who tells you tying the debt ceiling increase to spending agreements is unprecedented knows something that just isn't so.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Newt Gingrich.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
September 21, 2014 -- Updated 2132 GMT (0532 HKT)
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT)
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT