One of Mitt Romney’s fiercest criticisms of Rick Santorum is that Santorum voted to hike the debt ceiling. But, as it turns out, that’s a criticism that applies equally well to almost all of the current congressional members backing Romney.
“I don’t believe it’s appropriate for us to keep raising the debt ceiling every year. He voted five times to raise the debt ceiling without getting compensating cuts in spending,” Romney said yesterday in Ohio.
“Romney made the remarks at the Meridian Bioscience company outside of Cincinnati, where he was flanked by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a prominent endorser and potential vice presidential pick. Portman voted to raise the debt ceiling in August as part of a deal that involved future spending cuts,” reported CBS News.
Portman isn’t the only Romney endorsee who voted to hike the debt ceiling in August.
In fact, 91 percent of current congressional members who have endorsed Romney (and were in office at the time of the vote) voted to increase the debt limit in August. On the House side, the holdouts among the 63 members who endorsed Romney were Rob Bishop (Utah), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Connie Mack (Fla.), Todd Rokita (Ind.), and Michael Turner (Ohio). On the Senate side, Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) were the only two among the thirteen current senators who have endorsed Romney to not back the bill.
This isn’t the first time there’s been a discrepancy between Romney’s policy views and his surrogates’ past stands. Former senator Jim Talent criticized Santorum for voting for Medicare Part D in a conference call with reporters last week, only to have one reporter point out that Talent himself had also voted for Part D.
UPDATE: A couple of readers have pointed out that since the 2011 debt limit deal included spending cuts, it shouldn’t be viewed as being in the same category as previous debt ceiling hikes, such as those that Santorum voted for, which did not include spending cuts to offset the increase.
That’s a fair point, although some Romney endorsers (Sens. Richard Burr, Thad Cochran, Orrin Hatch, Lisa Murkowski, and John Thune) voted for both or one of the debt ceiling increases in 2006 and 2007. That’s just looking at the Senate side; I haven’t reviewed House members’ records on those debt limit increases. And of course, plenty of candidates have differences with their endorsers on issues. Still, for better or worse, Santorum is just one of many congressional Republicans who voted to support the debt ceiling increase.