Skip to main content

Gingrich: Obama's big debt limit deception

By Newt Gingrich, CNN Contributor
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Fri September 20, 2013
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
updated 4:08 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
The NFL's new Player Conduct Policy was a missed chance to get serious about domestic violence, says Mel Robbins.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
updated 1:28 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
updated 6:10 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
updated 5:33 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
updated 12:40 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the CBO didn't provide an accurate picture of Obamacare's impact, so why rehire its boss?
updated 7:40 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Russian aggression has made it clear Ukraine must rethink its security plans, says Olexander Motsyk, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.
updated 7:46 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
The Senate committee report on torture has highlighted partisan divisions on CIA methods, says Will Marshall. Republicans and Democrats are to blame.
updated 1:33 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
It would be dishonest to say that 2014 has been a good year for women. But that hasn't stopped some standing out, says Frida Ghitis.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT