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Gingrich: Obama's big debt limit deception

By Newt Gingrich, CNN Contributor
September 20, 2013 -- Updated 1947 GMT (0347 HKT)
A Park Service police officer stands guard in front of the Lincoln Memorial during a partial shutdown of the federal government in November 1995. Many government services and agencies were closed at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 as President Bill Clinton battled a Republican-led Congress over spending levels. A Park Service police officer stands guard in front of the Lincoln Memorial during a partial shutdown of the federal government in November 1995. Many government services and agencies were closed at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 as President Bill Clinton battled a Republican-led Congress over spending levels.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich says Obama wrongly claims debt limit hasn't been subject to negotiations
  • He says president is wrong in saying Obamacare isn't relevant to the budget
  • Gingrich says there's long history of presidents negotiating with Congress on debt limit
  • Gingrich: If Obama can negotiate with Putin and al-Assad, he should negotiate with Congress

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-cost of CNN's new "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays. A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.

(CNN) -- As a historian and a former speaker of the House who negotiated successfully through two government shutdowns, a successful welfare reform bill, the first tax cut in 16 years and four balanced budgets, I am offended and a little frightened by President Barack Obama's deliberate dishonesty about the debt ceiling.

On Wednesday, speaking to the Business Roundtable, Obama said:

"You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt."

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

This is just plain false, and he knows it. That he would say something so factually false in a prepared text is very worrisome.

First of all, issues such as Obamacare don't have "nothing to do with the budget" and the idea that it is unusual for Congress to bring them into the debt ceiling debate is absurd. Far from having "nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt," Obamacare is a major part of the budget, and it is now projected to cost twice what the president promised.

The president's historical claim is completely wrong, as well. Let's set the record straight.

Debt ceilings have been used since President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s to enable conservatives to put limits on government spending.

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The concept of using the debt ceiling as a vehicle to force negotiations really took off under President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s.

Under President Ronald Reagan, one of the most important changes in spending, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, was attached to a debt ceiling provision.

Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also signed debt limit increases tied to spending agreements. When we reached a deal to balance the budget 1997, it included a debt limit increase.

As Speaker John Boehner pointed out, "In fact, every major effort to deal with the deficit over the past 30 years has been tied to the debt limit."

Of course, Obama himself has signed a debt ceiling increase with amendments attached to it.

This is not a dictatorship. The president cannot dictate. The structure of our Constitution requires negotiations between the president and the Congress to get anything done.

It is very troubling that the president would adopt a "no-negotiation" strategy and then deceive the American people about the history of negotiations on the debt ceiling. It is especially bizarre that Obama eagerly negotiates with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad but considers the elected leaders of the American Congress unworthy negotiators.

As Reagan said in his 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing": "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

Anyone who tells you tying the debt ceiling increase to spending agreements is unprecedented knows something that just isn't so.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Newt Gingrich.

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