Let’s hear it for a higher national debt. Why?

“We cannot as a Congress pass spending bills and tax bills and then refuse to pay our bills. Refusing to raise the debt limit is like refusing to pay your credit card bill — after you’ve used your credit card.”

That statement was by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa , in rebuke to a young freshman senator from Illinois who gave a ringing speech about the evils of deficit spending.

Guess who that senator was, back in 2006.

His argument now, as President Barack Obama, is the same as Grassley’s was back then.

“The time to control the deficits and debt is when we are voting on the spending bills and the tax bills that create it,” Grassley said. “Raising the debt limit is about meeting the obligations we have already incurred. We must meet our obligations.”

All too true. Now that Obama is on the right side of the issue, we hope that Grassley speaks for his own party in refusing to make the debt limit into another dead-end political fight.

If you look up Obama’s remarks in the Congressional Record, you’ll find a lot of tea party rhetoric about the evils of excessive government spending. We agree with that, but in the case of the debt limit, as we found out in Obama’s first term, the issue before Congress is financial credibility, not the separate issue of financial restraint.

A great nation pays its bills, a lesson that then-Sens. Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton ignored in a party-line vote in 2006.