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“I must express my protest against continually increasing the debt without taking positive steps to slow its growth. Therefore, I am voting against any further increase in the national debt,” he said in a floor speech just before helping fellow Democrats defeat an increase of $251 billion on a 46-14 vote.

Of course at that time it was Republicans who called for a debt-hike without conditions, and warned of catastrophic consequences.

Ronald Reagan’s Treasury Department warned of halting Social Security checks and pay for the troops — the same fears Mr. Obama raises now.

Mr. Biden and his allies actually defeated the debt increase on the first vote, forcing Republican Majority Leader Howard Baker to scramble for support, dispatching the Air Force jets to bring senators back to town. Coupled with several vote-switchers, Mr. Baker prevailed and won the debt increase on a re-vote.