As President Obama prepares to raise the debt ceiling -- after the Senate waived its opposition last week -- $5 trillion hikes evidently are no longer "unpatriotic" as Obama said they were in 2008 while describing former President George W. Bush's $4 trillion increase over eight years.
The White House requested authority earlier this month to raise the debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion, up $1.2 trillion from last summer and more than $5 trillion from the statutory limit of $11.3 trillion set in October 2008 before Obama took office. The debt at the time Obama entered the White House was $10.6 trillion. The ceiling was raised to $12.1 trillion within a month of his inauguration.
Such increases used to be anathema to Obama, who voted in March 2006 along with all his Senate Democratic colleagues against Bush's hike of the debt ceiling to $8.9 trillion.
At the time, Obama called raising the debt limit "a sign of leadership failure." Out on the campaign trail in July 2008, he suggested the move was downright un-American.
"The problem is that the way Bush has done it in the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion from the first 42 presidents. No. 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome. So we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back. $30,000 for every man woman and child. That's irresponsible, that's unpatriotic," he said.
In April 2011, during the heat of the debt ceiling debate with Congress, Obama expressed regret for his 2006 stance, which he said was delivered from "the vantage point of a senator versus the vantage point of a president."
"When you're a senator, traditionally what's happened is, this is always a lousy vote. Nobody likes to be tagged as having increased the debt limit -- for the United States by a trillion dollars. As president, you start realizing, you know what, we, we can't play around with this stuff. This is the full faith and credit of the United States."
Under an arrangement reached last summer as the U.S. was about to hit the statutory ceiling, Republicans agreed to let the president raise the limit unless there was effectively a veto-proof majority to disapprove of it. Last week, the House voted to prevent the increase, but the Democratic-led Senate voted to let Obama hike U.S. borrowing capacity.
That would make the fifth increase in the debt ceiling since Obama entered office in January 2009. Under Bush, Congress raised the debt ceiling seven times in his eight years.
On Sunday, House Budget Committee Paul Ryan suggested that it's time to put a stop to the borrowing.
"We are not getting the kind of leadership we need from the outside. At the time when America needs it the most, we have a debt crisis on our horizon. The Senate hasn't budgeted for 1,005 days now. The president is not even proposing to tackle this fiscal crisis," Ryan, R-Wis., told "Fox News Sunday."
"So, what we need is a new president and a new Senate, and we need to give the country a very specific plan, a set of ideas of how we're going to solve these problems and let the country choose in November what they want America to become," he said.