It is less than a week until President Barack Obama's second inauguration, and already a political fight is shaping up that could potentially define the President's second term. At a press conference yesterday, President Obama demanded that Congress increase the current authorized borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion, in order for the government to avoid defaulting on its debt, but Congressional Republicans continued to push for reduced government spending, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
Of course, this is not the first time that the debt limit has created a conflict between House Republicans and President Obama. Back in 2011, the need to increase the debt ceiling led to a budget crisis between the Republicans who had taken back control of the House in the midterms, and the Democrats who controlled the Senate and President Obama.
In a new FRONTLINE documentary, produced by our partner WGBH called "Inside Obama's Presidency," the producer and director Michael Kirk revisits the debt ceiling crisis of 2011, and recalls the freshman Republicans who refused to vote to increase the debt limit and instead pushed for a deal that would ultimately lead to the so-called "fiscal cliff" debacle.
As one Republican strategist, Frank Luntz, told Frontline: "I asked them the question, how many of you are going to vote for the debt ceiling, and only three or four of them raised their hands. And I said, if you vote for the debt ceiling, the people who put you in office are going to knock you out. If you vote for the debt ceiling, you're voting for your own death certificate – political death certificate."
"Inside Obama's Presidency" airs on Tuesday, January 15 on PBS.