Boehner flubs the ‘existence’ of the debt limit

House Speaker John Boehner’s Twitter feed was full of chest-thumping posturing last night, with the Ohio Republican whining about “tax increases” and refusing to compromise. It’s not exactly constructive rhetoric.

But there was one item that stood out.

Debt limit exists to force Washington to rein in spending, deal with these tough issues. If @WhiteHouse won’t, we will.

Wait, the Speaker of the House thinks the debt ceiling “exists to force Washington to rein in spending”? Since when?

In fact, this is more than a little bizarre. In 2002, John Boehner voted to raise the debt limit in a clean bill, with no preconditions, with no attempts to rein in spending, and with no effort to “deal with these tough issues.” In 2003, he did the same thing. And then again in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Did Boehner, in all of these votes, simply forget why the debt ceiling “exists”?

Indeed, has Congress ever understood the purpose of the law the way Boehner does? Since 1939, Congress has raised the debt limit 89 times. The issue has come up 89 times, in 89 instances, Congress passed a clean bill, and policymakers never saw this as part of a process to “force Washington to rein in spending.”

It’s almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along, hoping the public won’t know the difference.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.