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The politics of debt: NRSC whacks Bill Nelson's debt stances

Here's a press release from the National Republica Senatorial Committee. It's here in full. But note it fails to point out that Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio are also opposed to House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan. Also, the press release suggests Nelson voted for debt ceiling resolutions for Obama, but not Bush. But Nelson voted for increases three times under Bush in 02, 07 and 08.

Here goes:

WASHINGTON — In yet another sign that he’s prepared to put the re-election efforts of himself and President Obama ahead of avoiding the federal government defaulting on its debt for the first time in U.S. history, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) joined with his liberal party leaders last night in signing a letter announcing his firm opposition to the two-step plan offered by House Speaker John Boehner and which will be voted on by the House yesterday. 

In his letter, Nelson joined with Democrat leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer in claiming that an initial six-month extension, as opposed to the two year extension sought by President Obama, would put America at risk.  Notably, the Boehner bill has the strong support and endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Ignoring that, Nelson and his fellow Democrats write, “A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it. Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months.”

However, there is one huge problem with Nelson’s spin – it’s not supported by facts or by history. 

Over the last 40 years, there have been 37 separate debt limit increases that last 6 months or less, and never once has the federal government ultimately defaulted on its debt.  Meanwhile, the $2.4 trillion increase President Obama is seeking represents the largest single debt hike in history, and, quite conveniently, it kicks the can down the road past both his and Senator Nelson’s re-election bids next year. 

“As Bill Nelson once again stands side-by-side with President Obama, and against the Florida small business community, the only conclusion to draw is that they are more interested in their own re-election bids than with avoiding a catastrophic default next week.  Senator Nelson is playing politics with the full faith and credit of the U.S. economy and his partisan actions are shameful,” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Jahan Wilcox said today.

As a reminder when you consider Senator Nelson’s continued rhetoric on this issue and his claims that America would be put at risk with a short-term debt limit extension, Nelson voted AGAINST raising the debt limit when President Bush was in the White House.  Apparently his views on this key issue depend on which party controls the White House:

·         Bill Nelson Has Voted Against Increasing The Debt Limit In The Past. (H.J. Res. 47, CQ Vote #54: Passed (thus cleared for the president) 52-48: R 52-3; D 0-44; I 0-1, 3/16/06, Nelson Voted Nay; S. 2986, CQ Vote #213: Passed 52-44: R 50-1; D 2-42; I 0-1, 11/17/04 , Nelson Voted Nay; H. J. Res. 51, CQ Vote #202: Passed (thus cleared for the president) 53-44: R 50-1; D 2-43; I 1-0, 5/23/03, Nelson Voted Nay)

    BILL NELSON: “So Here We Go Again. Three Times We Have Done This In 3 Years . Let Me Put It In Context. From 1996 To 2001, The Debt Limit Was Increased By A Total Of Only $400 Billion, In Relative Terms. Today, We Are Asking That Be Doubled In The Increase Of The Debt Limit.” (Sen. Nelson, Congressional Record, S11405, 11/17/04)

 o   BILL NELSON: “Instead , The Huge Budget Deficits Year After Year Have Put Us On A Reckless Fiscal Path That Will Take Us Decades To Undo. And Guess Who Is Going To Pay Off That Debt We Keep Adding To The Tune Of Half A Trillion Dollars A Year. It Is Going To Be Our Children And Our Grandchildren Who Are Going To Have To Pay Off That Debt .” (Sen. Nelson, Congressional Record, S11405, 11/17/04)

 o   BILL NELSON: “Today’s Debt Limit Increase Is Something I Have A Great Problem With Simply Because Of The Way Of The Fiscal Policy That Has Been Thrust Into The Running Of Our Government. I Do Not Want To See This As An Annual Exercise.” (Sen. Nelson, Congressional Record, S11406, 11/17/04)