Yesterday, Donald Trump talked about the debt ceiling in ways that suggested he didn't know the term's meaning. Today, the president went a little further.
President Trump said Friday that Democrats should not use the debt ceiling as leverage amid ongoing negotiations between his administration and Congress."I can't imagine anybody using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge," Trump said in the Oval Office, calling the debt limit a "sacred thing in our country."
Oh, for crying out loud.
Trump may not be able to "imagine anybody using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge," but that was his own party's strategy when Barack Obama was president. Indeed, in the way of the Republicans' debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explicitly described the statutory limit as "a hostage that's worth ransoming."
It was during this same crisis that a South Carolina congressman named Mick Mulvaney helped lead the way, threatening to push the nation into default unless the party's demands were met, The young GOP lawmaker at the time not only championed the dangerous scheme, Mulvaney publicly argued that default wouldn't be a big deal, and undermining the full faith and credit of the United States would carry few consequences.
Mulvaney is now the acting White House chief of staff. He was literally standing near Trump today when the president denounced negotiating around the debt ceiling and called it "sacred."
And then, of course, there's Trump's own record on the subject.
Almost exactly eight years ago, the future president started complaining about Congress raising the debt ceiling. In late 2012, Trump published an even more memorable tweet that read, "The Republicans must use the debt ceiling as leverage to make a great deal!"
In early 2013, Trump was disgusted when GOP lawmakers failed to use the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge. "I cannot believe the Republicans are extending the debt ceiling," he whined at the time. "I am a Republican & I am embarrassed!"
Ten months later, Trump added, "With the debt limit approaching, [the Republican Party] has even more leverage. If they stay united and on message they can win."
Evidently, Trump has changed his mind -- and he can no longer even imagine anyone doing what he explicitly told Congress to do in the Obama era.