I found a budget office graph that charts debt limit increases. Please check out Table 7.3.The debt limit has been raised by every President since World War II with the exception of Harry Truman. There have been 106 increases to the debt ceiling since 1940. Reagan raised the limit 18 times, George W. 7 times. Conversely, Obama has raised it three times, the last time being February of 2010. Pretty light handed compared to his profligate predecessors. From the Office of the Treasure website:
The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past... Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit – 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents.But talk is cheap, so don't look at what we actually do when we are in office, pay attention to the steady stream of crap that is coming out of our mouths instead. Always easier to clean things up when the other guy is in office.
It should be noted that the Democrats have played hard ball on the debt too, Obama himself voting not to raise the ceiling in 2006, something he now says that he regrets. But they never actively campaigned for a shutdown or a default, something several Republicans like Tom Coburn now seem to welcome and relish, engaging in sophistry about prioritizing our debt and only making certain interest payments after the default. The banks and market are not buying this pov, it will have a huge impact, both globally and domestically.