White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said Sunday that failing to raise the nation’s debt limit would be “catastrophic.” Yet his boss, then-Sen. Barack Obama, opposed a debt limit increase in 2006 and didn’t even show up to vote on it in 2007 and 2008.

Goolsbee’s comments were viewed as an opening salvo for the White House as it pushes back against conservative criticism of raising the debt ceiling. With many tea party activists voicing alarm about the prospect a vote on the debt limit early this year, Goolsbee said it’s “not a game.”

“If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity,” Goolsbee said on ABC's "This Week.” “I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling.”

That’s a sharp contrast from the position of Obama in 2006, while serving as an Illinois senator. Obama joined all Senate Democrats to oppose the 2006 debt limit increase.

“Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren,” Obama said in 2006. “America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.”

Obama later missed two votes in 2007 and 2008 while campaigning for president. Many Democrats who opposed the 2006 increase flipped their position once they took control of the Senate.

Katrina Trinko first reported Obama's comments and 2006 vote on National Review Online.