Monday, November 24th, 2014

Fact-checking Boehner and Obama on debt duel

After President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House, House Speaker John Boehner gave an address from the Capitol.
After President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House, House Speaker John Boehner gave an address from the Capitol.

Last night's dueling speeches about the debt ceiling crisis suggest that President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress are still far from a consensus. But they did offer a few claims to check.

"In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine," Obama said in his press conference. "Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every president has signed it. President Reagan did it 18 times. George W. Bush did it seven times. And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills."

Although we noted that Obama, as a senator, had voted against a similar measure under George W. Bush -- a vote he now says he regrets -- we found that he was right about how often it has passed under other presidents and rated it True.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for his part, portrayed a vote by the House to adopt the "Cut, Cap and Balance Act" as a bipartisan achievement. We found that it's common for both parties to claim bipartisan support, even when the numbers of supporters from the opposite party can be counted on one hand, as in this case. We noted that Obama had used the same tactic to claim bipartisanship for an early version of health care reform. We gave Boehner's claim the same rating we had given Obama's, Barely True.

We're going over the transcript looking for other facts that deserve a little digging, and we'd welcome your suggestions as well. Send them to truthometer@politifact.com