Hoyer: Republicans Opposed to Tax Increases in Debt Deal Are Like ‘Sunshine Patriots'

By Matt Cover | July 6, 2011 | 2:15 PM EDT

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Republicans need to put “everything on the table, which includes revenues,” when it comes to working out a debt-limit deal. He added that Republicans unwilling to negotiate tax increases into the deal were like “sunshine patriots,” people unwilling to fight for what is best for America long term.

“Republicans need to put everything on the table and understand that you cannot get there from here without putting everything on the table, which includes revenues,” said Hoyer at a Capitol Hill briefing on Wednesday. “The president is also absolutely correct that we need to take a balanced approach, we need to check our rhetoric and our politics at the door.”

Last week, President Barack Obama repeated his view that certain tax deductions should be eliminated and some taxes raised to generate revenue for the government. As the Associated Press reported, “The White House has identified about $600 billion in tax increases it wants over the next decade. About $400 billion of them were offered as part of deficit-reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden.”

At Wednesday’s briefing, Hoyer quoted former GOP Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio) who said the no new taxes pledge taken by many Republicans violated the congressional oath of office.

“Senator Voinovich said that the pledge that so many Republicans – almost every Republican has taken – expressing fealty to Mr. Norquist’s premise [against any tax increase of any kind] was inconsistent with their oath to the Constitution,” Hoyer said. “I believe Sen. Voinovich was correct.”

The pledge Hoyer was referring to is promoted by Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative organization led by Grover Norquist. It commits those who sign it to oppose any form of tax increase in any piece of legislation.

Hoyer then quoted Thomas Paine’s American Crisis, published in 1776, saying that those who refused to abandon such political pledges were “sunshine patriots and summer soldiers” – like some people in 1776 who would not persevere in the Revolutionary War against Britain.

Founding Father Thomas Paine, author of "Common Sense" and "The Crisis" pamphlet series, to inspire Americans in the Revolutionary War against Britain.

“Thomas Paine said ‘the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he who stands [by] it now deserves the praise of men,’” said Hoyer.

He then said, “I believe in this next 30 days we’re going to see who are sunshine patriots and summer soldiers who are interested more in politics than in responsibility -- who are focused on the next election, not the next generation.”

The debt ceiling should be raised by Aug. 2, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned, or the government will be forced to stop payment on some of its obligations because it can no longer borrow money to provide the necessary cash-flow.

The debt ceiling (or debt limit) is the total amount of debt the government is allowed to have outstanding. Currently, it is set at $14.29 trillion and the government hit that ceiling on May 16. To keep the government operating, Geithner has suspended payments into two federal pension programs. This will allow the Treasury to continue borrowing money up to about Aug. 2.