Bush Raised Debt Ceiling Five Times – With Votes from GOP Leaders Boehner, Cantor and McConnell Every Time

As you listen to Republican rhetoric on raising the debt ceiling, keep these facts in mind about their record as stewards of the economy during the Bush years when they controlled the White House, Congress and the courts: They gave billions in tax breaks to wealthy Americans (which, the record shows, did not spur job growth), put two wars on the national credit card (it’s a pleasure doing business with you, Chinese commies!) and rammed through an unfunded Medicare benefit. Remember all that? Now read this excerpt from a report from Think Progress in April:

Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions.

At the beginning of the Bush presidency, the United States debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. ThinkProgress compiled a breakdown of the five debt limit increases that took place during the Bush presidency and how the four Republican leaders voted:

June 2002: [Republican-controlled] Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

May 2003: [Republican-controlled] Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

November 2004: [Republican-controlled] Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

March 2006: [Republican-controlled] Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

September 2007: [Democratic-controlled] Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.


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  • July 9, 2011 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s a shame hitler missed eric cantor’s folks.

  • makesenseofit
    July 10, 2011 - 7:05 pm | Permalink

    A shame the Bush regime was their to do exactly that and put the country in debt and the American people as well..
    The entire pot of gold went to those who dictated the
    plan to create huge debt … which is were we are now…
    and the plan is to get out of this debt by punishing the very people who had nothing to do with it … the poor….

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  • Nick
    July 14, 2011 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    Federal Debt went up $4.7 trillion under Bush in 8 years.

    Obama has added $4 trillion in 2.5 years. You Liberals ignore reality. Obama is spending 3x as much per month as Bush ever did.

    • July 15, 2011 - 4:46 am | Permalink

      Nick – Every extra dime Obama has spent since he has been in office has been in an effort to resolve the crisis you guys caused, first, by giving billions in job-killing tax breaks to the Paris Hiltons of this world who did not need them, then by borrowing billions from the Chinese to pay for the invasion of Afghanistan, which Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld bungled, and billions more for the invasion of Iraq, which should have never happened and has been a complete waste of precious American blood and treasure, and then by adding a benefit to Medicare that was not paid for that has added yet more billions to the debt.

      Then, after putting all those trillions to the national credit card, through your malfeasance and incompetence in “managing” the economy, you sat back claiming “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” at the very moment it was collapsing in the worst downtown since the Great Depression — a financial calamity the ending of which is not yet in sight.

      Don’t try to rewrite history around here, Nick. One-hundred percent of the blame for the sorry state of the economy goes to you Republicans. Your party had control of the White House, Congress and the courts for six years, during which, if you believed your own propaganda that Republicans are financial experts, you would have fixed the economy, but instead you ruined it.

      The question is why — why do you Republicans want America to fail? And why are you so desperate now to get back into power now and finish the job?

  • Chad
    July 15, 2011 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jon, what % of Americans pay taxes?? I think we should get more people paying taxes into the system… Look at the 80’s, the system works. Bush only had 1/2 of the equation right, and Obama has 0% right.

    • July 16, 2011 - 5:56 am | Permalink

      Hey Chad – What percentage of Americans pay taxes? You tell me. Also, please cite a legitimate source, not Fox or other GOP propaganda outlets.

      In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan raised taxes at least seven times, including the largest corporate tax hike in history. As governor of California, one of Reagan’s first actions was to draft a budget that raised spending as well as taxes — taxes went up that first year by $1 billion in 1960s dollars, which is about $6.5 billion today.

      But the US economy in the 1980s sucked compared with the economy in the 1990s, when Bill Clinton raised taxes on the top 2 percent and balanced the budget — all of which your Dear Leader Bush undid. He cut revenue to the government and then, with the eager assent of his poodles in Congress, including Boehner, Cantor and McConnell, began spending money like a drunken sailor, borrowing billions of dollars from the Chinese and others. All of that would have been bad enough, but to make a bad situation even worse, Bush crashed the economy on his way out of town.

  • Mike
    July 25, 2011 - 3:19 pm | Permalink



  • July 31, 2011 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

    The Fab Four in the Senate don’t care about the country. They like their jobs. Boehner played 154 rounds of golf last year, what’s that tell you?

  • Bob
    November 5, 2011 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Dear Jon,

    The economy in the 80s was recovering from the mess Jimmy Carter left it. The inflation rte in double digits, interest rates that went as high as 21%. The recession that followed had the unemployment rate over 10% for ten straight months. These were the challenges Reagan faced in the 80s, yet despite the high interest rates people still bought new housing and business invested in new jobs.

    Bill Clinton, by contrast, inherited an economy that had already come of a recession (one where the sitting president didn’t spend a dime on a government stimulus or tax breaks). Here are some of the factors aided Bill Clinton, why don’t you tell me which of them his brilliance was responsible for:

    1) The peace dividend from the Cold War, the DOD budget was actually cut (not a Washington cut, but a real cut) for three years running. From $286 billion in FY1992 to $250 billion in FY 1994 and held to minimal growth for three years ($259 billion in FY 1997).

    2) The Democrat caused S&L scandal was winding down, by the time Clinton took office the government was selling off more assets from seized S&Ls than they were spending in seizing new S&Ls.

    3) Refinancing Reagan era 10 & 15 year treasury bills at much lower interest rates cutting the cost of servicing the debt.

    4) The GOP led congress making an effort to enact the recommendations of Clinton’s bipartisan panel on Medicare reform (over the objections of Clinton & the Dems).

    5) The GOP led congress enacting Welfare reform (something Clinton embraced and tried to take credit for, after he saw that it had 70% poll approval).

    6) The GOP led congress cutting the capital gains tax rate (once again over the objections of Clinton, Dems and the CBO, all of which predicted lower revenues – they were wrong, revenues went up).

    7) The GOP congress led by a group of deficit hawks holding the line on the discretionary budget; from FY1992 to FY 1999 the discretionary budget only increased by $50 billion dollars. For their efforts these budget hawks were accused of wanting to poison the air, starve children, toss old people onto icebergs, etc.

    8) The tech boom, dot com boom, and Y2K led to levels of employment not seen since the 1950s, when the USA was the only major industrialized nation that hadn’t been bombed to hell.

    And despite having all of these things going for him, Clinton only posted an on-budget surplus two years, In FY1999 grand total of $2 billion dollars and FY2000 for $86 billion.

  • November 6, 2011 - 7:41 am | Permalink

    Bob, even if all your assertions were accurate, which they’re not, you’re avoiding responding to the key point here — Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling multiple times under Bush while this summer they behaved like traitors by taking the government hostage. They nearly triggered economic collapse as bad or worse than the one caused by their ineptitude and malfeasance in 2008.

    For six years, Republicans controlled all three branches of government — Executive, Legislative and Judicial — and during that time the economy tanked and finally crashed. Now you want to blame it on the Dems.

    Put your man pants on. Take responsibility for your party’s kowtowing to its wealthy patrons and corporate sponsors — own it! — and make your leaders stop doing everything in their power to make this country fail and instead get to work helping to get Americans working again.

    All the tea bagger Republican base apparently knows how to do is sit around like monkeys throwing poo at the people doing all the work. It is disgusting and, frankly, by the standards of the GOP’s own rhetoric, un-American.

  • Bob
    November 6, 2011 - 8:16 am | Permalink


    If you’re going to say something I posted is wrong then you need to back it up, I’ll be waiting for you.

    And here’s something else that you probably missed in your rush to condemn Republicans, look at how the Democrat leadership voted.

    Remember how Nancy Pelosi said that voting against raising the debt limit was racism? What explains her no votes in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006?

    Did the Republicans spend too much during Bush’s two terms, absolutely. Bush should have stayed the course on fiscal responsibility, rather than trying to win libs over by being a compassionate conservative and raising spending so damn much.

    Just look at how much the non-defense discretionary budget went up during Clinton’s two terms versus how much it went up during Bush’s two terms, completely aside from the wars, he spent too damn much.

    btw: Anyone who calls the Tea Party “teabaggers” has lost the right to any further responses from me. Grow the fuck up or shut up.

    • November 6, 2011 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      You didn’t provide any citations for your assertions, which are all off topic anyway, so I’m under no obligation to prove they’re false. What happened in the 1990s is irrelevant to the fact that Republicans had complete control of the government from 2001 to 2007, during which time unemployment increased as did the deficit and national debt, and during which time the groundwork was laid for a complete economic collapse from which we are still struggling to recover — a recovery that everyone knows Republicans are doing their best to stop so that they can achieve their stated number one goal: Making Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.

      And btw, one of my favorite things about our political scene today is how tea baggers — whose only rationale for existence is calling people names like socialist, Muslim, fascist, Nazi, etc. — can’t stand it when people call them “tea baggers,” which is how they referred to themselves before they figured out that “tea bagging” was some sort of frat boy sex act. They have no one to blame for their inept branding but themselves.

  • Harrison
    October 15, 2012 - 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jon. Obama’s raise the debt ceiling 5 times in his one term of office that isn’t even over with. Bush raised the ceiling seven times in his two terms of office. Sure, Bush didn’t manage the economy the greatest at times, but what exactly has Obama done? In 2006 under Bush the unemployment rate was between 4.4 and 4.7. In 2007 it was between 4.4 and 5.0. Obama went 43 straight months over 8%. In September he brought it down to 7.8. Not bad, right? No, not bad at all! It only took him 43 straight months!

    • October 16, 2012 - 6:33 am | Permalink

      Nice try Bushbot. You Bush worshipers are obviously convinced your Dear Leader is perfect, so why lie about his record?

      George W. Bush raised the ceiling:
      1. by $450 billion to $6.4 trillion in June 2002;
      2. by $984 billion to $7.384 trillion 11 months later, in May 2003;
      3. by $800 billion to $8.184 trillion 18 months later, in November 2004;
      4. by $781 billion to $8.965 trillion 16 months later, in March 2006;
      5. by $850 billion to $9.815 trillion 18 months later, in September 2007;
      6. by $800 billion to $10.615 trillion 10 months later, in July 2008;
      7. and by $700 billion to $11.315 trillion three months later, in October 2008.

      It has been raised two times fewer under Pres. Obama — but the first time was February 2009, less than a month after Bush left office,* which was three months after he had crashed the world economy, an act of reckless ineptitude that is responsible for the four other times the debt ceiling has had to be raised since Bush ran off to Texas:
      1.* by $789 billion to $12.104 trillion in February 2009;
      2. by $290 billion to $12.394 trillion ten months later, in December 2009;
      3. by $1.9 trillion to $14.294 trillion two months later, in February 2010.
      4. by $2.4 trillion to $15.2 trillion, August 2011
      5. and to $16. 4 trillion, in January 2012

      But the number of times Obama and Bush raised the debt ceiling combined is still five (5) times fewer than number of times it was raised by that economic incompetent, Ronald Reagan:
      1. $985 billion in February 1981;
      2. $999.8 billion in September 1981;
      3. $1.0798 trillion September 1981;
      4. $1.1431 trillion in June 1982;
      5. $1.2902 trillion in September 1982;
      6. $1.389 trillion in May 1983;
      7. $1.49 trillion in November 1983;
      8. $1.52 trillion in May 1984;
      9. $1.573 trillion in July 1984;
      10. $1.8238 trillion in October 1984;
      11. $1.9038 trillion in November 1985;
      12. $2.0787 trillion in December 1985;
      13. $2.111 trillion in August 1986;
      14. $2.3 trillion in October 1986;
      15. $2.32 trillion in July 1987;
      16. $2.352 trillion in August 1987;
      17. and $2.8 trillion in September 1987.

      Job growth under your Dear Leader’s single-party control was anemic — despite claims that we still hear today that giving tax cuts to billionaires and millionaires creates jobs. But even that weak growth record was wiped away when Dear Leader and his goosestepping rubber-stamp Congress crashed the economy in the fall of 2008. After that, as Politifact confirms, Bush ended up with a lousy record of 3.5 million jobs lost.

      No wonder he had a 22 percent approval rate when he left office and holds the record as the most unpopular president in the history of presidential polling.

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