Fox’s Varney Exposes Charlie Rangel’s Hypocrisy on Raising Debt Limit

Fox News host Stuart Varney embarrassed Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, using archived video to expose the congressman’s hypocrisy on the debt limit. Rangel supported raising the debt limit before today’s deadline, of course, but back in 2004, with Republican George W. Bush in the White House, he sang a different tune.

Varney, filling in for Cavuto, set Rangel up by asking him why he wanted to borrow so much money now. Rangel ignored the question, instead expressing his glee at the deal the Senate had reached. He exclaimed, “[W]e have kicked the can down the road and I'm happy.”  Varney then made his play: [Watch the video below the break.]

 

"I hope you have not forgotten, but back in 2004, you were talking about raising the debt limit and at that point you were not in favor of it."
 

The host played a tape of Rangel on the House floor in 2004, speaking out against increasing the debt limit. The congressman was forceful back then, railing:

"The request sounds like a drunk going to an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting saying, ‘just give me one more drink and I won't do it again.’ You can't help yourself with spending. You think you have a credit card with no limit on it... And who are you borrowing the money from? The Japanese and the Chinese. What kind of patriotism is that?"
 

Rangel could only smile nervously when the tape ended. Varney then posed the million-dollar question:
 

"[W]hy were you against raising a lot more money back then when the debt, by the way, was way under $10 trillion, but you are all for raising the debt ceiling when the debt is now $17 trillion? What changed?"
 

The liberal congressman lamely replied that he and his fellow Democrats who opposed a debt ceiling hike during the Bush years never said they would jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States. But if Rangel thinks today’s Republicans would have put the country in jeopardy by not raising the debt limit, then surely he would have jeopardized the country if he had his way in 2004.

Besides, today’s Republicans didn’t actually want to jeopardize the full faith and credit of the U.S. Their goal in resisting a debt ceiling increase was to stop the government from spending and borrowing like an alcoholic – the very same reason that Rangel opposed such an increase nine years ago. 

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

STUART VARNEY: After the Senate, the House is set to vote on a deal to raise the debt ceiling, therefore increasing the nation’s borrowing limit. To Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel, who supports it. Congressman, welcome back. Good to see you again, sir.

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL: Good to be back.

VARNEY: You’re all in favor of this. You want to go out there and borrow another trillion dollars or whatever the number is. Make your case. Why are you so much in favor of borrowing all that money?

RANGEL: I feel like the country has been on death row and the Tea Party has given us a reprieve from the governor's office. So we're not out of danger yet. And we have kicked the can down the road and I'm happy. I love this country. I love all the Americans that really appreciate good government. And, more importantly, for those people who loaned us money, I don't think it's a profile in courage that now our president can say we will pay you back. That's what it’s all about.

VARNEY: I hope you have not forgotten, but back in 2004, you were talking about raising the debt limit and at that point you were not in favor of it. Let me -- I am going to play the tape. This is you back in 2004, sir.

RANGEL [on tape]: The request sounds like a drunk going to an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting saying, ‘just give me one more drink and I won't do it again.’ You can't help yourself with spending. You think you have a credit card with no limit on it. And then when you ask, well, where are you going to get the money? ‘Don't worry about it. We’ll increase the debt ceiling. We’ll just borrow some more money.’ And who are you borrowing the money from? The Japanese and the Chinese. What kind of patriotism is that?

VARNEY: I see you smiling, Congressman, ‘cause you know –



RANGEL: That sounds like one smart legislator to me. But I can tell you –

VARNEY: Why was it okay to raise the debt -- why were you against raising a lot more money back then when the debt, by the way, was way under $10 trillion, but you are all for raising the debt ceiling when the debt is now $17 trillion? What changed?

RANGEL: That's a very, very good question. You might even ask Senator Obama why he opposed the debt ceiling. Let me make it perfectly clear. When you are negotiating, as I was then and as President Obama was when he was in the Senate, you’re not saying that you’re going to jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States of America. There is nobody that talked the way the language that you hear on the Republican side of the House.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.