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11:09 PM, Jul 25, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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I was struck by these sentences in President Obama’s speech:

Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.

Consider the condescension implicit in the president’s statement—“a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.” These “people outside of Washington” are not little children being lectured on an obscure subject by a worldly adult. These people outside Washington are ... citizens. Judging by the polls, most of us have opinions about whether, and under what conditions, the debt ceiling should be raised. We don’t seem to be as ignorant as Obama thinks we are of the term or concept of a debt ceiling. But the president assumes we’ve never bothered our pretty little heads about such a thing.

And he doesn’t want us to start bothering our pretty little heads about it now. So Obama instructs us as to what the debt ceiling is. He claims that “raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money.” That statement might be true about a rise in the debt ceiling that would take us only through the rest of the current fiscal year, for which funds have already been appropriated by Congress. It is simply not true about the increase Obama is asking for, which is designed to cover the next fiscal year and a bit more. The fact is, Obama’s $2.4 trillion increase (a number that never appears in the speech) does precisely what Obama says it doesn’t: it “allow[s] Congress to spend more money.” It is not the case that Obama’s debt ceiling hike “simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.”

It would be nice to have a president who spoke candidly to his fellow citizens as adults.

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