We got a preview of the fight over the debt limit, and the Democratic response to it. Maybe I should say the lack of a Democratic response. In his weekly briefing, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer refered to the coming debt limit vote as "the next hostage moment." But as he said that, he said he regretted his own votes against raising the debt limit in the past.
"That was a mistake," said Hoyer. He explained: "Frankly, we voted against the debt limit as a protest in terms of the fiscal policy that was being pursued that we think led inevitably to the deficits -- that is, cut revenues and increase spending."
The debate over the debt limit, though -- the "hostage moment" -- comes from Republican reluctance to vote for an increase in the limit that doesn't come with deficit-cutting commitments. The Republican position is overwhelmingly popular. A Frank Luntz poll conducted for FreedomWorks finds that 69 percent of Americans oppose raising the debt limit without conditions. So Hoyer was asked whether Democrats would bite the bullets and support this.
"We gotta see the position in which it's presented to us," said Hoyer. "I think that to hold hostage the full faith and credit of the United States of America to another agenda item is wrong. In fact, Republicans pledged that they would not do that. And in fact, they said -- Mr. Boehner said -- that he would keep separate divisive issues from important bills, and take them up individually. That is what ought to be done here. The full faith and credit of the United States of America ought not to be held hostage. And the underlying premise here is that the only reason you can hold hostage something is that the other side wants to act responsibly, and therefore, you think, even though they don't want what you're pressing, they'll take it to prevent a bigger harm."
If you're counting, he said "hostage" three times.