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Some GOP Members Hit Own Debt Limit

Members Have Faced Liens, Foreclosures

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Rep. Rick Crawford has spoken out against raising the debt ceiling, but has also faced his own personal financial struggles.

Some Republicans in Congress who have railed against raising the debt ceiling have previously struggled to manage their own finances.

Among the group of lawmakers who have resisted or rejected Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) push to pair spending cuts with a debt limit increase are individuals who have declared bankruptcy, run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, had their homes foreclosed on and failed to pay their taxes, a Roll Call analysis of public records and published reports shows.

Rep. Rick Crawford in April told a group gathered at a town hall meeting in Jonesboro, Ark., that it was time for the country to cut up its credit cards.

“You have a child, a college student, who goes off to college, who comes back after the first semester, and they loaded up a couple of credit cards, maxed them out. And you say, ‘Give me those. Here’s a couple more, don’t do that again,’” the Arkansas Republican said in a video posted by Blue Arkansas. “What do you think is going to happen? They’re probably going to load up those credit cards again. At some point, we’re going to have to take the scissors to the credit cards.”

Crawford, 45, can draw from experience.

When the Congressman was 28 years old and living in Springfield, Mo., he declared bankruptcy to discharge $12,611.67 of his debt.

The 1994 bankruptcy filing — which was first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette during the campaign — included medical bills, utility bills, a loan and credit card debt.

Crawford listed debts of $1,741.75 on his Chase Visa, $2,664.07 on his Citibank Visa, $1,201.02 on his Discover Card, $649.54 on his Sears account, $579.44 on a Famous Barr account, $330.64 on a Lebanon Valley National Bank card, $202.21 owed to Dillard’s department store and $162.68 on a card issued by J.C. Penney, according to court filings reviewed by Roll Call.

At the time, the future Congressman’s monthly take-home pay was $580, and his assets included household items and clothing worth $735 and a tax refund of $400.

“Congressman Crawford knows firsthand the consequences of not living within his means. That is why he is fighting for permanent structural reforms to the way Washington operates to ensure future generations are not suffocated by mountains of debt,” press secretary Anna Nix said.

Freshman Joe Walsh (Ill.) has been clear that he thinks the country has a problem with spending.

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