"Congress resists a White House request to raise the limit on how much the U.S. can borrow. The president warns of disaster. And the fight goes down to the wire. Sounds like the current budget standoff, right? Or the famous dustup between President Clinton and a Republican Congress in 1995-96? Try 1962. That’s when President John F. Kennedy pushed a conservative-leaning Congress to raise the federal debt limit by several billion dollars, implying that failure to do so could harm the military. Some Republicans later accused the administration of political 'blackmail.'"So begins a helpful article ("Fights Over Debt Limit Have Long History") that places the current debate over the debt limit in historical perspective. Congress and Presidents have been fighting about it since when in 1953 Dwight Eisenhower asked Congress to raise the limit from $275 billion to $290 billion. Congress didn't pass an increase until a year later and only to $281 billion.
This is not suggest that the current debate isn't important. It is. It's just that it isn't new.