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A Brief History of Debt Limit Votes in the House

May 20, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

We already know that the House Republicans support increasing the debt limit. All but four of them recently voted in favor of a budget blueprint that calls for adding $9 trillion to the debt subject to limit over the next decade. Yet somehow they have convinced Obama and the Democrats that they have to get something in return, like spending cuts that make tax increases less likely, in exchange for actually voting for the debt limit increase they’ve already endorsed.

Raising the debt limit is never popular, but both parties do it with a fair amount of regularity. As Rep. Michael Simpson [R, ID-2] noted last year, raising the debt limit is “the burden of the majority.” No matter which party is in power, the majority party has always been responsible for calling up a debt limit vote as the federal government gets close to borrowing more money to execute the laws than Congress has given them statutory authority to, and whipping their membership to get it passed. This year, however, the Republicans are bucking that trend. They seem to have convinced the Democrats that the government should either default on their obligations, or the debt limit increase should include hundreds of billions in spending cuts and preserve the low Bush-era tax rates, and that the Democrats should still provide a majority of the votes to pass it.

As I did for the Senate, below is a chart I put together using data from the Office of Management and Budget (caution, .xls file) showing all of the debt increase votes going back to 1997, what level they raised the limit to, and how many Republicans in the Senate voted for it.

Bill Containing Debt Ceiling Increase New Debt Ceiling Level Enacted Number of Republicans in House Voting “Yes” Party Controlling House/President
111-H.J.Res.45 – Increasing the statutory limit on the public debt (debt portion deemed passed in the rule, ) $14,294,000,000,000 0 Democrats/Obama
111-H.R.4314 – To permit continued financing of Government operations (2009) $12,394,000,000,000 0 Democrats/Obama
111-H.R.1 – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka TARP)(2009) $12,104,000,000,000 0 Democrats/Obama
110-H.R.1424 – Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (2008) $11,315,000,000,000 91 Democrats/Bush
110-H.R.3221 – Housing and Recovery Act (2008) $10,615,000,000,000 45 Democrats/Bush
110-H.J.Res.43 – Increasing the statutory limit on the public debt (2007) (deemed passed in the budget resolution, S.Con.Res.21 $9,815,000,000,000 0 Democrats/Bush
109-H.J.Res.47 – Debt limit increase resolution (2006) (deemed passed in the budget resolution, H.Con.Res.95) $8,965,000,000,000 214 Republicans/Bush
108-S.2986 – A bill to Amend Title 31 of U.S. Code to increase the public debt limit (2004) $8,184,000,000,000 206 Republicans/Bush
108-H.J.Res.51 – Debt limit increase resolution (2003) (deemed passed in the budget resolution, H.Con.Res.95 ) $7,384,000,000,000 214 Republicans/Bush
107-S.2578 – Debt limit bill (2002) $6,400,000,000,000 211 Republicans/Bush
105-H.R.2015 – Balanced Budget Act of 1997 $5,950,000,000,000 193 Republicans/Bush

Whether you support or oppose the policies Republicans want to tack onto this, it’s clear that they’re on the verge of scoring a huge, historically anomalous, victory here. The Tea Party crowd has added a hard-line ideological edge to the Republican caucus, and the Democrats are clearly afraid. They’ve convinced the Democrats that this debt limit vote is different from all others. Rather than following the trend and taking a responsible, yet unpopular, vote, the Republicans are positioned to turn this into a big win — both policy-wise and politically.

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Comments

Displaying 1-30 of 68 total comments.

  • epicism 05/20/2011 3:17pm
    clear that they’re on the verge of scoring a huge, historically anomalous, victory here.[/bq]

    This reads as written by an apparent fan of the GOP’s despicable tactics. I think the majority of Americans fully recognize that Republicans are doing no less than playing an ideological game of chicken with the economy — merely to score political points.

    Surely the Tea Parties influence on today’s political climate is apparent, however this change in paradigm is most certainly not a win of any kind. It is instead a superfluous waste of valuable time, serving only to clutter the issue and preempt important policy discussion about the future of our country.

  • epicism 05/20/2011 3:18pm

    it’s clear that they’re on the verge of scoring a huge, historically anomalous, victory here.

    This reads as written by an apparent fan of the GOP’s despicable tactics. I think the majority of Americans fully recognize that Republicans are doing no less than playing an ideological game of chicken with the economy — merely to score political points.

    Surely the Tea Parties influence on today’s political climate is apparent, however this change in paradigm is most certainly not a win of any kind. It is instead a superfluous waste of valuable time, serving only to clutter the issue and preempt important policy discussion about the future of our country.

  • jsimsnewchapter 05/20/2011 3:37pm

    Not necessarily. It’s call objectivity. If they can provoke the Democrats (the minority party) into supplying the majority of the votes to pass this, oh, and by the way, get their agenda passed along with it, all the while voting against it, or abstaining, they can: a.) get their agenda in place b.) make the democrats look fiscally irresponsible and c.)back democrats further into a corner.

    The fact of the matter is, until the left grows a backbone and starts taking stands, they’re going to be ground up like dog meat by the corporate machine that is the republican party, no matter who’s got the better ideas.

  • luminous 05/20/2011 3:53pm

    GOP is just digger their hole deeper, Boner is dreaming if he thinks house dems under Pelosi are going to provide very many votes for an unclear bill. They will get a few blue dogs(you know the guys that lost 2/3’s of their caucus last election), but from the outlay of the numbers boner will need more dems then that.

    This is going to go bad for the GOP as even with cuts their are a lot of Tea partiers that will take any increase what so ever as a violation of their principals. And the things that the dems are willing to compromise cuts on (defence, corp. welfare, tax loopholes) are things that would be a disaster for establishment repubs.

    Boner can either burn it all down, pass it clean(I am sure they could find the 20-40repubs+dems todo this), or compromise on cuts. Tho it doesn’t matter what he chooses todo, The republicans will likely have a civil war within the party no matter what happens, as all 3 options are political suicide for them.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 6:51pm

    Wait a minute, are you all really saying it’s more responsible for a vote to be taken to increase the debt, with no cutbacks whatsoever?

    Yes, they have shown support for raising the limit, but why is that a bad thing? Who said they had to be against it? All the Republicans want is something in return. Why is that a horrible idea?

    I’m actually in favor of NOT raising the debt limit, and making us deal with the problems we’ve generated for ourselves. I understand though why that stance isn’t likely and will result in the worst outcome, so as a voter I can understand raising the limit, but only if some fiscal responsiblity for the future is included. Maybe a balanced budget amendment, maybe a trillion or two in cuts in spending, and maybe even some tax increases. Although it’s been shown multiple times raising taxes doesn’t raise revenue, I also understand non-fiscal conservatives aren’t as educated as the rest of us, so we’d have to include that for the minority.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 6:55pm

    The left has grown a backbone, jsimsnewchapter. They have deluded Americans into believe the FED can and will and should provide for all their basic needs. This isn’t true, and even comes close to being unethical. Not all Democrats are left, but speaking about the left, whether Democrats or Republicans, they give the FED a “social benefactor” title that it doesn’t deserve. Through years and years of pandering and promising and buying votes from poor, uneducated, disgruntled, and even morally bankrupt individuals (whereas the right has done this w/ corporations) they have generated the mentality of “depend on the government”. It’s been played out for the last 2 years, where more was spent than in all the first 8 years of the previous administration. The government operates on using force to do what it wants to do. The government isn’t generous. But because the left has led millions to believe the government is generous, they have proven they have a backbone.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 6:56pm

    and luminous, this is one of those times I can completely agree with you. No matter how this debt ceiling vote turns out, Republicans will get blame from someone, somewhere, and the media will fly with it.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 6:58pm

    on a side note, why was this wrote about, but the President violating the War Powers Act and Congress not voting to extend the “Libyan Incursion” not wrote about? I would think the President violating the law would be MUCH more interesting and debatable than something that can still be changed. Also, can’t he be impeached for that? I mean, he did break the law.

  • jcolley 05/20/2011 8:05pm

    Everyone needs to watch this documentary “The Secret Of Oz” http://youtu.be/swkq2E8mswI

    The world economy is doomed to spiral downwards until we do 2 things: outlaw government borrowing; 2. outlaw fractional reserve lending. Banks should only be allowed to lend out money they actually have and nations do not have to run up a “National Debt”. Remember: It’s not what backs the money, it’s who controls its quantity.

    If you haven’t already you all need to get Bill Still’s new book “No More National Debt”. If you think The Secret of Oz was good you will love his new book. It will one day go down as the greatest economic books written in history. Someone with connections in Washington should send Ben Bernanke a copy =) Though I’m sure the common peoples freedom from serfdom is the last thing he wants, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of his owners.

    No More National Debt >> http://www.secretofoz.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=184:new-book-qno-more-national-debtq

  • luminous 05/20/2011 8:09pm

    “Republicans will get blame from someone, somewhere, and the media will fly with it.”

    It is well earned blame, they dug their hole and now they get to live with it. They where elected on a jobs message, so far they have yet to produce a single piece of jobs legislation. And the multi state effort to attack groups that either fund the opposition, or tend to vote democratic, packaged with renewed efforts to privatise public services without public input or vote. Along with any Tea party lead states centralising power in the state executive government, to the extent of allowing the governor to disenfranchise cities and towns effectively firing their elected officials(MI EFM law, soon to, FL, WI, maybe OH). And we can’t forget the Anti-brown people laws, and return of Jim crow voter laws in some states(WI, OH, FL, TX).

    The Tea parties accomplishments read more like the 1933 enabling act passed by the Reichstag then the ideal of America.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 8:50pm

    where elected on a jobs message, so far they have yet to produce a single piece of jobs legislation

    There’s definitely no love lost because they haven’t pursued jobs as vigorously as they said they would. Although I do think “job bills” can take different forms, including lowering taxes.

    And the multi state effort to attack groups that either fund the opposition, or tend to vote democratic, packaged with renewed efforts to privatise public services without public input or vote

    Are you talking about the union bills popping up everywhere? If so, I can’t see how anyone elected to Congress is directly responsible for that. And personally, anyone bargaining a pay wage that takes their pay from taxes shouldn’t be unioned, IMO. I can’t see how bargaining a pay or benefit raise while being a public worker can lead to lower taxes for anyone, including the public worker. It’s just more enslavement of EVERYONE to support the few workers who benefit. What’s EFM law?

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 8:51pm

    And we can’t forget the Anti-brown people laws, and return of Jim crow voter laws in some states(WI, OH, FL, TX

    Wait a moment, what laws are you referring to? I haven’t heard anything about “jim crow” laws coming back into style.

  • luminous 05/20/2011 8:57pm

    “I also understand non-fiscal conservatives aren’t as educated as the rest of us, so we’d have to include that for the minority.”

    Correlation is not causation! Higher taxes do raise more revenue, but they also change the distribution of wealth. They have the effect of putting more money into the hands of the working class, either through social programs or direct government spending. When the working class has more money they spend more which in turn employs others in the working class. While higher taxes will have an immediate increase in revenue over time the economic growth in the working class puts money in the hands of those they pay lower rates in the tax brackets that apply to them which slowly equilibrates the total GDP, mind you revenue is still higher it just appears lower because it moves the GDP higher as well.

  • luminous 05/20/2011 9:13pm

    “And personally, anyone bargaining a pay wage that takes their pay from taxes shouldn’t be unioned”

    Ohio police used their collective bargaining to obtain bullet proof vests for example, this isn’t just an issue of wages, its working conditions, benefits, safety equipment, workplace safety etc. And public workers have just as much right to unionise as everyone else, more so as that their wages otherwise would be dependant on the partisan whims of whoever happens to be elected at the moment.

    "What’s EFM law?

    Emergency Financial manager law, passed in MI allows the governor to assign a financial manager to any city/municipality/county that he determines to be in a financial “emergency”. This manager can then disenfranchise the town or dismiss elected officials seize city assets and sell them without public input or vote.

  • luminous 05/20/2011 9:22pm

    “Wait a moment, what laws are you referring to? I haven’t heard anything about “jim crow” laws coming back into style.”

    Utah just passed a sb1070 like law(held up in courts atm), FL has tried to pass something like it. Several southern states has passed similar laws.

    The voter ID laws passed in WI, OH, FL, PA all have 1 thing in common they go beyond a simple ID requirement. In several version of those laws they make it illegal for college students to vote in their college town, several don’t address the unconstitutionality of poll taxes(as state issued photo id costs money), they pretty much all limit early voting, limit mail in voting, The FL law puts a $1000 fine on voter registration forms that are not turned in within 48 hours of being signed. The FL law also legalises voter caging operations.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 10:23pm

    Higher taxes…change the distribution of wealth. They have the effect of putting more money into the hands of the working class, either through social programs or direct government spending.

    Isn’t this the same idealogy I was speaking about earlier? The government’s role is not wealth distribution, nor should it be. Government should be limited & small, not something everyone has to depend on; because the government operates by force. It can only do something if it first takes something away. And all too often, it takes away our liberty and our treasure.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 10:28pm

    mind you revenue is still higher it just appears lower because it moves the GDP higher as well.

    After taking a look at the charts that you hate, from 1953 to the present, it really only appears as if corporate revenue has gone down as a percentage of GDP, everyone else has stayed pretty much where they began. Now, other than inflating dollars for today’s value with inflation, I don’t know of any other good way to compare 50 years ago with today other than using GDP. Do you have any suggestions?

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 10:33pm

    Ohio police used their collective bargaining to obtain bullet proof vests for example, this isn’t just an issue of wages, its working conditions, benefits, safety equipment, workplace safety etc

    Maybe you didn’t understand me the first time so let me repeat it: “And personally, anyone bargaining a pay wage that takes their pay from taxes shouldn’t be unioned”. Police, firefighters, teachers, etc. can buy vests and ask for better working conditions. But if they try to get a pay raise, it should be on individual merit, just like the private sector. Also, they can be unionized, but do I believe they have a “right” to it? No. We are talking about my own personal opinion after all.

  • fakk2 05/20/2011 10:44pm

    Utah just passed a sb1070 like law(held up in courts atm), FL has tried to pass something like it. Several southern states has passed similar laws.

    Wait a minute, you’re mad because someone is making illegal immigration tougher? Seriously? You’re upset because communities don’t want ILLEGAL immigrants? How sad it is to see someone condoning breaking the law while saying those lawbreakers are “model citizens” and “pose no threat”.

    As far as illegal immigration and voter ID’s go, I’ve said before and will probably have to say again, more power should be given to the states, and the citizens of those states should be the watchdog. Assuming you don’t live in all of those states you mentioned, how is what they’re voting to do internally affecting you? I’m more and more believing you want everyone to be controlled 100% by the FED, and that’s a disheartening thought.

    *BTW, had the FED enforced immigration law, they wouldn’t have had to make their own.

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  • luminous 05/21/2011 12:15am

    “After taking a look at the charts that you hate, from 1953 to the present,”

    Again, my issue is with the information left out, you know GDP as a dollar amount, year to year growth, inflation, The little things that give context to the wider picture.

    “everyone else has stayed pretty much where they began.”

    Their is a 8 to 10 percent variance give or take, which supports my statement.

    “You’re upset because communities don’t want ILLEGAL immigrants?”

    I am both against illegal immigration and against legalizing racial profiling, Also immigration is the exclusive area of the federal government it is not constitutional for the states to pass their own policy here.

    “Assuming you don’t live in all of those states you mentioned, how is what they’re voting to do internally affecting you?”

    Their reps in the Federal government effect me a lot.

  • luminous 05/21/2011 12:20am

    “I can’t say the idea of allowing someone to vote w/o a picture ID proving it’s them is reassuring. It makes me wonder how many elections I’ve taken part in at places I’ve never been.”

    I can’t say I am particularly against picture ID, I am against all of the other nonsense riding along side in these bills. Alot of the extra stuff in these bills is the same garbage that was used to keep blacks from voting in the south before the VRA, its disgusting that anyone would pass laws like these now.

  • fakk2 05/21/2011 1:29am

    Their reps in the Federal government effect me a lot.

    Of course their reps affect you, but the laws you mentioned were laws their Congressional reps didn’t sponsor or vote on.

    Their is a 8 to 10 percent variance give or take, which supports my statement.

    10% of 6% isn’t very much variance. And in the grand scheme of things, considering it covers almost a full 60 years, it’s not changed a lot at all. Not enough to conclusively prove anything other than no matter what the tax rate, we’ve always paid the same amount of GDP.

    immigration is the exclusive area of the federal government it is not constitutional for the states to pass their own policy here

    I have to disagree with you on this one, and a good reason why is here

    What you said about ID voting makes sense. Of course I’ll need to read the bills to make my own conclusion. But preliminarily it makes sense.

  • luminous 05/21/2011 3:27am

    It doesn’t just run afoul of the Foreign affairs clause, it also violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, likely also violates the supremacy clause due to existing and conflicting federal laws.

    http://nysiaf.org/2010/12/20/arizona-laws-authors-neo-nazi-tie/

    It is very interesting who the author of that law pals around with isn’t it?

    “10% of 6% isn’t very much variance.”

    Not 10% of 6%, a variance of 6% TO 10% of total GDP, That is a huge variance.

    “Of course their reps affect you, but the laws you mentioned were laws their Congressional reps didn’t sponsor or vote on.”

    Every action they take represents the intent of their party, if it was just 1-2 off state that would be one thing, but it is a multi state coordinated effort. They choose to be a brand, the republican party brand in this case, they both represent and are represented by the sum total of the actions of their party.

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  • luminous 05/21/2011 1:52pm

    During that 50 year period the governments revenue as a percent of GDP ranges from 14% to 22%.

    “And yes, that is very interesting who he pals around with, but that doesn’t change the law. If we didn’t follow laws b/c of whom wrote them, we’d never follow any.”

    The Arizona just like the Utah law has had it’s implementation halted by the courts because it is unconstitutional. I am sure it will eventually goto the supreme court.

    “You’ve got to do better than the 14th Amendment and the supremacy clause.”

    So how many provisions does it have to violate before we call it unconstitutional? You can’t pretend away the supremacy clause it applies in this and many other cases. And the 14th amendments equal protection clause doesn’t allow them to pass laws that would mostly target a certain racial group. This is just another form of Jim crow law, targeting brown people this time mind you, Call them Jim Hesus laws maybe!

  • luminous 05/21/2011 1:59pm

    And I quote from the constitution,..

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land;”

    Seems pretty clear to me!, The fed’s existing laws trumps the laws of the States!!!

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