Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson once again focused on spending when asked about the debt limit on Friday, in an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
"I'm not going sign anything that in any way increases our obligations," Carson said when asked how he'd handle the debt ceiling showdown Congress is heading toward this fall.
Raising the debt limit only gives the federal government the authority to borrow money to pay the bills on debts it has already incurred. In an interview with "Marketplace" earlier this week, Carson seemed to confuse hiking the debt ceiling with the budget. Pressed on whether he would allow the government to default, Carson said he wasn't endorsing that strategy. He then called for the U.S. to stop taking on debt. In recent years, Republicans have used the threat of government default in an attempt to force big budget cuts, a tactic Carson seems set on using if president.
On Friday, Carson told MSNBC he felt he could prevent a debt ceiling showdown entirely.
“If I was president, we wouldn’t be in this situation," he said. "I would have – long before we got to this stage – been looking at that and looking at other things because we always end up in the same situation. Your back's against the wall, you got to do it right now or we’re going to die, you know – you know, it’s the same crap every year. Why do we keep doing it?"
That back-against-the-wall situation is expected to hit within weeks: the Treasury Department says the U.S. will run out of cash in early November and has asked Congress to hike the debt ceiling before then so it can continue paying its existing bills and legal obligations. Carson did not say how he'd handle this current situation.
Carson is dominating the crowded Republican field, trailing only Donald Trump in national polls. Carson and Trump are campaigning as outsiders who promise to bring massive change to Washington. Both have made big promises about what they could do as leaders, but they have each struggled particularly on how they're going to make the numbers add up. Trump has promised a balanced budget, but his tax plan is estimated to add $12 trillion to the deficit. In the "Marketplace" interview, Carson was vague on how exactly he'd make so many budget cuts that he wouldn't need to hike the debt ceiling.