Cantor in 2010: ‘Beyond Comprehension’ To Lift Debt Limit to $14.294 Trillion

April 13, 2011 - 10:24 AM
Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, as Congress resumed work on a spending plan to avoid a government shutdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - On Feb. 4, 2010, when the House of Representatives voted to increase the legal limit on the national debt by another $1.9 trillion (lifting the limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion), not one Republican voted for the increase.

Then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) rose on the House floor that day and declared that it was “beyond comprehension” and “a travesty” to talk about raising the legal debt limit to $14.294 trillion.

Last week, the Republican House leadership agreed to a deal with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) to spend $3.7555 trillion in this fiscal year--even though at the close of business Friday, as the deal was being struck, the Treasury reported that it could borrow only an additional $80.85 billion before hitting the $14.294-trillion debt limit Congress set last year.

In the first six months of this fiscal year (Oct-March), according to the Treasury, the debt increased $708.492 billion. Even if you subtract $38.5 billion from that number—to account for the $38.5 billion Republicans say the new spending deal will cut from the current annual federal spending level—the federal government would still be on a pace to increase the debt by about another $670 billion in the remaining six months of this fiscal year.

Simply put: To consummate the spending deal the Republican House leaders cut with Obama and Reid on Friday, the Republicans would need to lift the debt ceiling by hundreds of billions just to let the government borrow the money the Republicans have already agreed to let the government spend between now and Sept. 30

Back in February 2010, when the then-Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to lift the debt ceiling to $14.294 trillion, then-Minority Whip Cantor delivered a scathing speech against the measure.

“It would be recklessly naive to go about our business in Washington pretending there won't be severe consequences for the mountains of debt we are piling up,” Cantor said on the House floor. “Yet today it is evident that this kind of willful ignorance is sweeping across Washington. We are set to lift our Nation's debt burden to $14 trillion.”

“I would ask my colleagues in this chamber if they know how many zeroes 14 trillion has,” said Cantor. “I would ask the American people if they know how many zeroes are in 14 trillion. It is 14 trillion. It is beyond comprehension to be talking about numbers this big. More precisely, the limit is 1, 4, 2, 9, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0.”

“It is a travesty,” said Cantor. “The writing is on the wall. Congress needs to wake up and realize that the future of American prosperity is in dire straits, mortal danger. As Americans hunker down to weather the economic storm, Democrats in Congress boosted Federal spending by 12 percent.”

Cantor also argued in his speech that day that Democrats were wrong to argue for increasing taxes as means to offset their spending increases.

“We have heard a lot about the majority's PAYGO scheme, but this will not affect any spending that has already happened,” said Cantor. “In fact, it will perpetuate the problem by locking in that spending going forward. And the majority's solution to offset all of their spending is more tax increases, which will kill jobs at the time we need them most.

“Supporters of this legislation will pull the wool over the American people's eyes and claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility, but the American people aren't buying it,” Cantor said. “By voting in favor of this PAYGO bill, the majority will be increasing the debt burden on our children and grandchildren by $1.9 trillion. Strip away the sweet-sounding rhetoric, and that's what this bill is all about.”

The final vote on Feb. 4, 1010 to lift the debt ceiling to $14.294 trillion was 233 to 187 (with 8 Democrats and 6 Republicans not casting any vote on the measure). Not a single House Republican voted for lifting the debt ceiling that day and 15 Democrats crossed party lines and voted against it.