Gibbs: Senator Obama Only Voted Against Raising Debt Ceiling in 2006 Because He Knew It Would Pass Anyway

Jan 5, 2011 3:00pm

On Sunday, President Obama’s top economic adviser, Council of Economic Advisers chair Austan Goolsbee, cautioned members of Congress not to “play chicken” by voting against raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling – despite the fact that as a senator in 2006, President Obama voted that way.

“I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling,” Goolsbee told me on ABC News’ THIS WEEK.  “If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”

Goolsbee said a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause “a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008…This is not a game. The debt ceiling is not something to toy with.”

Four year ago, however, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., voted the exact way President Obama is now cautioning senators not to do.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said on March 16, 2006. “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 and a failure of leadership . Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.”

The debt limit was raised by a vote of 52-48.

Asked about that quote – and vote — today, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that it was important that “based on the outcome of that vote…the full faith and credit was not in doubt.”

Then-Sen. Obama used the vote “to make a point about needing to get serious about fiscal discipline….His vote was not necessarily needed on that.”

-Jake Tapper

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