Economic Program | Infographic

Raising the Roof: Principle or Politics?

by Bill Rapp

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Think the vote to raise the debt limit is about principle? Think again. Our new infographic shows stand-alone votes in Congress to raise the debt ceiling over the past decade.

In 2003, 2004 and 2006, Republicans controlled everything—the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. When the debt limit came up for a vote in the Senate, guess what happened. The vote to raise the debt ceiling came almost totally from Republicans. Same thing was true when the debt ceiling came up for a vote in the House in 2002 and 2004. In June 2002, a year after Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont became an Independent, the Senate was narrowly controlled by Democrats but the House was still Republican.) In 2009 and 2010, Democrats controlled everything. So what happened? Votes to raise the debt ceiling came almost entirely from Democrats. When power was divided in 2002 and 2007, the Senate votes to raise the debt ceiling were bipartisan.

If there is a principle involved, it seems to be this: whose problem is it?

JPG available here


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