GOP Freshman: 'It's Obama's Debt Ceiling'

July 20, 2011 2:40 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

As the stalemate over the debt ceiling has demonstrated, it is impossible to strike compromise when the negotiating parties do not agree on what counts as a concession. Today, freshman Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) showed yet again why the Republican Party's perverse concept of compromise has left the U.S. on the brink of default.

During an interview with MSNBC's Contessa Brewer, Brooks insisted that Republicans have already compromised with President Obama by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for a laundry list of right-wing policies, including an amendment to the Constitution. "Why should we give Barack Obama $2.4 trillion? It's his debt," Brooks said. "It's his debt ceiling."

BREWER: Is compromise in your future? Would you be willing to at least—

BROOKS: Oh absolutely. We've already compromised. Why should we give Barack Obama $2.4 trillion. It's his debt. It's his debt ceiling. We have already agreed to give him $2.4 trillion if he will just agree with us to solve the problem. And the long-term solution — the only long-term solution — is a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

Of course, Brooks' argument is total nonsense. Republican leaders openly acknowledge that defaulting would have terrible economic consequences; they are not giving something up by taking routine action in order to avoid defaulting.

Brooks' assertion that this is Obama's debt ceiling is equally ridiculous. It is, by definition, America's debt ceiling, and the whole country will feel the impact of default. As for the familiar claim that Obama is responsible for the debt, that's also a lie. But when Brewer brought up the massive cost of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brooks was happy to blame those entanglements on Obama, too:

BREWER: Why do you lay all of that debt at the feet of President Obama when it's clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added to the nation's debt?

BROOKS: It did, and he's the commander in chief and he could have removed our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at any given time if he had so chosen.


Finally, it's important to recognize that it's not just wars that have fueled the debt in recent years. The Bush tax cuts were also a major negative factor, despite conservatives who promised that the cuts would boost government revenues, and they continue to be a leading driver of the debt today.