CNN's Velshi Lectures Santorum That the Debt-Limit Fight Is an 'Absolute Mess'

CNN anchor Ali Velshi lamented Republican resistance to raising the federal debt ceiling during an interview on Tuesday's American Morning with former Pennsylvania Senator and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. "It's an absolute mess what is going on in Washington right now, specifically, with respect to the debt ceiling and failure to reach an agreement is somewhat deplorable," said Velshi.

 


Santorum refused to let Velshi get away with pinning total responsibility on the Republicans. "I think both sides are to blame, and the President of the United States is doing anything but leading on this issue," Santorum replied. Santorum further stated he could support a deal that raises the debt ceiling. "I would support a responsible increase in the debt ceiling that does something to do something about the basic problem as to why we have a debt ceiling increase which is we are blowing the doors off spending in Washington DC."

Velshi again tried to pin the Republicans for messing up Washington with hypocrisy on the debt ceiling. "Were we spending more than we took in 2002, Senator, or in 2003 and in 2004 and in 2006? Do you recall?" asked Velshi. Santorum's response challenged Velshi's insinuation that these situations were exactly the same, but with different parties in charge. "The answer was we were spending slightly more than we were taking in and we were having debt ceiling increases that were modest by comparison," replied Santorum. "What you're talking about here is an enormous increase in spending. You're talking about a president who has blown the doors off of Washington spending. We are talking about a 50 percent increase above what the normal spending is relative to GDP and there is no end in sight to this and to continue that reckless spending."

Although Velshi's question was itself legitimate, Velshi's implication that Republicans are the ones holding up the process reveals the true motivation behind it. If there's an "absolute mess" created by honoring campaign promises to the Tea Party, the "cleanup" is to betray those promises and make a tax-hiking deal.

A transcript of the intervew, which aired at 8:30 am on Tuesday, follows.

CNN
AMERICAN MORNING
07/05/2011

8:30 am EDT

ALI VELSHI: You are - you're a former senator. You know about how things are going in Washington. I have to tell you, Christine and I share a view. It's an absolute mess what is going on in Washington right now, specifically, with respect to the debt ceiling and failure to reach an agreement is somewhat deplorable. My fear is that you support what - what people who are blocking that increase are saying about the debt ceiling?

RICK SANTORUM: Who's blocking the increase? It takes two to tango.

VELSHI: The Democrats are blocking the increase Senator. I'm sorry, the Republicans are doing that.

SANTORUM: Well, no. I think both sides are to blame, and the President of the United States is doing anything but leading on this issue.

VELSHI: That wasn't the question, senator. I'm asking you what would you tell them to do right now? August 2 we have to have an increase in the debt ceiling. Would you support it or not?

SANTORUM: Well, I would support a responsible increase in the debt ceiling that does something to do something about the basic problem as to why we have a debt ceiling increase which is we are blowing the doors off spending in Washington DC, and continuing that is not going to be good for the markets, it's not going to be good for the economy. It's good for bottom line.

VELSHI: Were we spending more - were we spending more than we took in 2002 senator, or in 2003 and in 2004 and in 2006? Do you recall?

SANTORUM: The answer was we were spending slightly more than we were taking in and we were having debt ceiling increases that were modest by comparison.

VELSHI: But you voted for them in all of those four years, correct?

SANTORUM: What we're talking about here, if you go back - you know, scale matters. Scale really does matter.

VELSHI: All right.

SANTORUM: What you're talking about here is an enormous increase in spending. You're talking about a president who has blown the doors off of Washington spending. We are talking about 50% increase above what the normal spending is relative to GDP and there is no end in sight to this and to continue that reckless spending, these huge deficits, we're talking about a president who doubled the - who almost doubled the amount of national debt in his term of office, vis-a-vis those who came before him. We cant just say "well, we did it before. It's the same." It's not the same.