CNN's Velshi Calls Out Rush Limbaugh, Lectures Him on Debt Ceiling

CNN's Ali Velshi struck back at talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday, lecturing him on the debt ceiling after Limbaugh had hit Velshi as a "low-information reporter."

Velshi maintained that the debt ceiling "had absolutely nothing to do with spending control or debt control" as Limbaugh claimed, and added that "Republicans seem to think the debt ceiling is a good tool to limit how much the government spends."

"So, the debt ceiling law was established to give Treasury the flexibility to borrow chunks of money without going to Congress to get approval every time a law was passed. It had absolutely nothing to do with spending control or debt control," Velshi lectured Limbaugh.

He concluded with a flourish:

"The current ceiling was officially hit on December 31st, but like last time, the U.S. Treasury is using extraordinary measures to get through until about mid- or late-February. Maybe even early March. If Congress doesn't act by then, the government may not be able to pay some of its bills. It's as simple as that. Rush, I hope you're taking notes."

Last Friday, Limbaugh took issue with Velshi's reporting on the debt ceiling where he insisted "Republicans need to understand the difference between the debt ceiling and debt."

"The debt ceiling is exactly what it says: At that level of debt when you've reached the ceiling, you can't legally borrow any more money. And, of course, that limits spending," Limbaugh had said.

"Think of the debt limit as your monthly credit card limit," Limbaugh continued. "You can't go over it on your credit card. And the United States government can't spend more than what its credit limit is or its debt limit."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 8 on CNN Newsroom at 3:42 p.m. EST, is as follows:

ALI VELSHI: Finally, right-wing radio personality Rush Limbaugh took a swipe at me last week because he doesn't agree with my take on the debt ceiling debate that's about to consume Washington and the country again. He's accused me of being, quote, "a low-information reporter" because I dared to say what the debt ceiling law isn't.

(Video Clip)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, radio show host: Think of the debt limit as your monthly credit card limit. You can't go over it on your credit card and the United States government can't spend more than what its credit limit is or its debt limit. Now, Ali Velshi at CNN says that has no relation to spending.

(Laughter)

(End Video Clip)

VELSHI: That's just the best part. He went on for about 11 minutes. But let me explain again to Rush. Back in the old days, the U.S. had a system where every time a bill involving money was passed, the Treasury had to raise money for it by issuing bonds, since the U.S. has rarely had a surplus.

So, the debt ceiling law was established to give Treasury the flexibility to borrow chunks of money without going to Congress to get approval every time a law was passed. It had absolutely nothing to do with spending control or debt control. It was a technicality. Most functioning countries don't have any such thing because they understand that if the government spends the money it has to pay the bills. But Republicans seem to think the debt ceiling is a good tool to limit how much the government spends.

The current ceiling was officially hit on December 31st, but like last time, the U.S. Treasury is using extraordinary measures to get through until about mid- or late-February. Maybe even early March. If Congress doesn't act by then, the government may not be able to pay some of its bills. It's as simple as that. Rush, I hope you're taking notes.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014