John Boehner pointed out the obvious on Thursday, noting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and then-Sen. Barack Obama would never have given President George W. Bush freedom to raise the debt ceiling as high as he wished.
Boehner asked a reporter, “Do you think that Senator Reid or then-Senator Obama would have ever given to President George W. Bush the unlimited ability to raise the debt limit?” When the reporter responded, “They’re talking about doing it now”, Boehner followed with another question:
I know they’re talking about doing it now … Do you think there’s any chance that Senator Reid or then-Senator Obama would have done that? Zero!
Obama has already alluded to his desire for unilateral authority to raise the debt limit.
Boehner, who is in favor of using the debt limit as pressure on the Administration, warned: “Congress is never going to give up our ability to control the purse. And the fact is that the debt limit ought to be used to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, D.C.”
He is opposed by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who said it is “not real” to use the debt limit in that way:
If this were real, I would agree that the Congress ought not to give up its authority to do that. But Congress does ultimately have the authority to do it, obviously; demonstrably it has that authority, but no one believes – not Mitch McConnell, not John Boehner, not Eric Cantor, ‘cause I’ve talked to all of them. Certainly, none of us believe that America’s defaulting on our debt makes sense.
Whatever Obama and his allies in Congress believe, the president does not have the power to borrow money. That power is reserved for Congress; The Constitution expressly states in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2 says: "Congress shall have power ... To borrow money on the credit of the United States."