[I]f both sides would agree to just follow the earlier advice of President Obama, tempers might cool. And had President Obama himself just listened to earlier guidance from Barack Obama, his opponents might have had no cause for either a government shutdown or another debt-ceiling crisis.
In 2006, Obama rightly called for an end to the Bush administration’s intemperate deficit spending that had resulted in an annual deficit of $250 billion that year. Accordingly, Senator Obama voted to shut down the government rather than automatically to extend the debt ceiling. He explained his resistance this way: “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.”
Obama rightly added an additional warning in forcing an impasse over further borrowing: “Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities. Instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans — a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about.”
The next year, Obama voted “present” rather than to approve another $160 billion in annual borrowing that would add to the debt. Senator Joe Biden, Senator Harry Reid, and Representative Nancy Pelosi agreed with Obama’s worries over serial deficits, at various times voting no on President Bush’s requests to raise the debt ceiling to allow more annual deficits. …
… Unfortunately, during the present shutdown, the president in a single press conference called his Republican adversaries names of the sort that he earlier had warned the nation about. Through a series of metaphors, similes, and allusions, Obama reduced his opposition to little more than ransom takers, house burners, defaulters, global-economy crashers, nuclear-bomb users, extremists, threateners, extortionists, hostage takers, plant burners, and equipment breakers — who are apparently also untrustworthy and irresponsible.
Just as the obstructionist Obama was not an arsonist in 2006 and Joe Biden was not a hostage taker, Republicans who now likewise wish to follow their examples to control the spending of a government even deeper in debt, and additionally beset with a costly but unproven new entitlement, are not either.