As Congress weighs another “deal” to raise the national debt limit, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is blasting the two leading contestants for the GOP nomination for their support of a “reckless” debt ceiling agreement in 2018.

The former South Carolina governor points out that Governor Ron DeSantis was a member of Congress who voted for a 2018 bill to increase the nation’s debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion. Former President Donald Trump signed it into law about a month before the U.S. Treasury said it would have exhausted its borrowing authority.

As the Tampa Bay Times asserted at the time, if DeSantis hadn’t been running for governor in 2018, he “could be counted on to vote against the sprawling, two-year budget deal before Congress.”

Fiscal hawks like the Freedom Caucus that DeSantis helped create were staunchly opposed to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. As Haley notes in a press release this week, the bill was opposed by 67 House Republicans but was supported by both DeSantis and Trump.

Haley, who is trailing both Trump and newly minted presidential candidate DeSantis by a wide margin in GOP primary polls, cites a FreedomWorks piece at the time:

“The Schumer-McConnell spending deal, the Bipartisan Budget Act, is the worst-case scenario for fiscal conservatives under a Democratic president and Democrat-controlled Congress, but it is happening under a Republican president and Republican Congress. This is reckless spending, and a massive tax hike on future generations, made under the guise of ‘bipartisan negotiations.’ This is deceitful, aggressive overspending by those elected to protect taxpayers…This deal makes clear that Republicans only care about deficits and out-of-control federal spending under a Democratic president. With a Republican president and Republican control of the House and Senate, there is no other conclusion that one can possibly draw.”

Herritage Action said:

“Providing another debt limit suspension in conjunction with a massive spending increase is a mistake. The suspension could allow America to take on more than $1 trillion in additional debt over the next 13 months. Adding to the problem, the bill’s offsets are essentially gimmicks designed to give the perception of some fiscal restraint without actually providing any meaningful reforms.”

There was a brief government shutdown at the time when U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) temporarily stopped the passage of the bill in the Senate. Paul wanted a vote to remove the 13-month debt limit increase and impose tight budget caps. That didn’t happen.

DeSantis supported the hundreds of billions of dollars in increased military spending the deal delivered. He said in a statement at the time:

“The budget agreement provides our military with long-overdue resources and certainty.  Years of operating under arbitrary spending limitations and a seemingly endless flurry of continuing resolutions have taken their toll on readiness, which hurts our troops and harms our national security.  The Trump-Mattis military restoration authorized by this agreement will be the most significant fortification of the military since the Reagan defense buildup that helped end the Cold War.”

Trump, too, pointed to the defense spending as the driving force behind his decision to sign a “disappointing” spending/debt ceiling bill.

“We’re very proud of many of the items that we’ve been able to get. We’re very disappointed that in order to fund the military, we had to give up things where we consider in many cases them to be bad or them to be a waste of money. But that’s the way unfortunately right now the system works,” Trump said after signing the bill in late March 2018. He said he had considered vetoing the bill but didn’t want to lose the funding for the military.

Haley, who was Trump’s United Nations secretary at the time, said the best way to fix Washington’s spending addiction is to elect people who have not been part of the problem.

“Adding at least $4 trillion to America’s $31 trillion national debt over two years without substantially cutting spending is no way to run our country’s fiscal affairs,” she said of the latest deal that would suspend the debt ceiling for two years with very modest spending cuts. “Business as usual won’t get the job done.”

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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Nikki Haley” by Nikki Haley. Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Ron DeSantis.