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By an overwhelming 318-97 margin, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected President Barack Obama‘s request to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit without corresponding spending cuts.

Eighty-two Democrats joined 236 Republicans in rejecting the measure – while 97 Democrats voted to raise the debt limit. All six of South Carolina’s U.S. Representatives voted against the record $2.4 trillion increase, which would have raised the debt limit to $16.7 trillion.

“This vote makes clear that deficit reduction will be part of any bill to increase the debt limit,” said U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan).

Obama and his administration have repeatedly warned that failing to raise the debt limit – i.e. authorizing additional borrowing on the part of the federal government – would have “Armageddon-like” consequences on the U.S. economy.

The only problem? Obama has previously opposed similar debt hikes on partisan grounds.

“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally” then-Senator Obama said in March of 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.”

We agree … it’s just a shame he doesn’t feel that way today.

Republicans and Democrats have approved a combined $8.75 trillion worth of debt ceiling increases over the last decade. Of that total,$3.4 trillion was approved by George W. Bush and “GOP”-controlled Congresses. Another $2.35 trillion was approved by Bush and a Democratic-controlled Congress, while $3 trillion was approved by Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress.

The government officially reached its debt limit on May16, but has been using creative accounting measures to push the deadline for additional borrowing authorization to August 2.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have all repeatedly voted for debt ceiling increases. Specifically, all three approved a $900 billion increase in May 2003, an $800 billion increase in November 2004, a $781 billion increase in March 2006 and an $850 billion increase in September 2007 – never once demanding spending cuts as a pre-condition.

Nonetheless Boehner – who folded like a cheap suit during the recent “government shutdown” debate – has demanded “trillions, not just billions” in spending reductions in exchange for passing a debt limit increase.

Will he back up his tough talk?

We’ll see …

There are currently three options on the table for reining in federal spending – although none of these options addresses the entitlement spending debacle that is driving the growth of the federal budget.

The GOP deficit reduction plan – which would shave $6 trillion off of future spending growth over the next 10 years – is almost as inadequate as Obama’s proposed cuts, especially on entitlements. Even the “conservative” House proposal – which offers $9 trillion in cuts over the coming decade – fails to do the heavy lifting with respect to entitlements.

Accordingly, while we’re pleased to see so many House members insisting on spending cuts as a condition of authorizing additional borrowing, here’s hoping that they’re not just blowing more smoke up our asses.

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