President Donald Trump on Friday extolled the debt ceiling as “a sacred element of our country” that should never be wielded as a bargaining chip in budget talks — despite urging Republican lawmakers to do just that 6½ years ago.
“That’s a very, very sacred thing in our country, debt ceiling. We can never play with it. So I would have to assume we’re in great shape,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
The president’s remarks come as White House officials, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, home in on a two-year budget agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would raise the national debt limit.
“When I first came into office,” Trump said, “I asked about the debt ceiling. … And I said, I remember to Sen. Schumer and to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Would anybody ever use that to negotiate with?’ They said, ‘Absolutely not.’”
The president added: “That’s a sacred element of our country. They can’t use the debt ceiling to negotiate.”
But as a private citizen in December 2012, Trump tweeted that “the Republicans must use the debt ceiling as leverage to make a good deal!”
That social media directive from the future commander in chief came amid the Obama administration’s legislative battles over the U.S. fiscal cliff with then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
“I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” Trump said Friday.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine