The Washington Times - April 11, 2011, 02:15PM

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday said President Obama regrets voting against an increase in the federal debt ceiling in 2006 as a senator from Illinois.

At the time, then-Sen. Obama joined 47 other senators to vote against raising the nation’s borrowing limit — a vote he said signaled “leadership failure” by the Bush administration. Senators narrowly passed the measure by a vote of 52 to 48.


Mr. Carney said the president has since come to view that position as a “mistake.”

“He realizes now that raising the debt ceiling is so important to the health of this economy and the global economy that it is not a vote that, even when you are protesting an administration’s policies, you can play around with, and you need to take very seriously the need to raise the debt limit so that the full faith and credit of the United States government is maintained around the globe,” Mr. Carney told reporters.

Mr. Carney’s predecessor, Robert Gibbs, had previously defended Mr. Obama’s 2006 vote, saying the bill would have passed with or without his approval.

Fresh off last Friday’s narrowly averted government shutdown, Congress and the president face another looming showdown next month, when the federal government is expected to exceed its $14.25 trillion debt ceiling.

The GOP has threatened to block the measure unless it contains significant deficit-reducing measures.The White House, for its part, has called for a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling, arguing that lawmakers should not link deficit reduction to the debt limit vote.

Mr. Obama is slated to give a speech Wednesday on a broad blueprint for reducing the deficit that includes a call for tax increases on wealthy Americans and tweaks to Medicare and Medicaid.