The PJ Tatler

Senators to Obama: Keep Your Mitts Off the Debt Ceiling

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) may have portrayed President Obama well in Mitt Romney’s debate prep, but he’s now warning the commander in chief to not play games with the debt limit.

Portman spearheaded a letter to Obama yesterday signed by 43 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to “strongly oppose” any effort by the White House to eliminate Congress’ role in approving the debt limit.

“Nearly every significant deficit reduction law of the past 27 years has been linked to a debt limit debate. For Congress to surrender its control over the debt limit would be to permanently surrender what has long provided the best opportunity to enact bipartisan deficit reduction legislation,” states the letter.

“Some suggest the current budget process already provides Congress with sufficient oversight over the national debt. However, the 60 percent of federal spending currently allocated to entitlements and other mandatory spending essentially grows on autopilot without automatic Congressional oversight,” the senators continued. “Furthermore, the United States Senate has not passed a budget in more than three years. These two developments leave the debt limit as the Congress’s most important remaining tool to force action on the soaring national debt.”

Portman also notes that, as a senator, Obama voted against raising the debt limit 2006. The proposal was part on an offer laughed at by McConnell last week that includes $1.6 trillion in new tax hikes and a new stimulus spending package.

“We also believe that Congress’s power over borrowing, like the power of the purse, is firmly rooted in our constitutional tradition. The Founders understood the potential danger of permitting the Executive to unilaterally incur new public debt,” the senators said to the former constitutional professor. “Consequently, Article I of the Constitution empowers only Congress ‘to borrow money on the credit of the United States.’ The debt ceiling is the means by which Congress exercises this inherent legislative responsibility.”