Hoyer Compares Debt Limit Fight to Hostage-Taking

By Melanie Arter | September 17, 2013 | 4:25 PM EDT

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday used the act of hostage taking as a metaphor for the debt limit during a discussion on the upcoming fiscal battles in the House.

“Ronald Reagan agreed on that so that almost all the leaders and certainly every former Republican president believes that taking that hostage is a hostage you do not want to create,” Hoyer said explaining that it would be “dangerous” for Republicans not to extend the debt limit.

“Taking that hostage that if you kill that hostage would kill the economy and undermine the stability of the country and give to the world an extraordinarily negative view of the United States’ ability to manage its own affairs,” Hoyer added.’

Hoyer’s comments were made one day after a gunman killed 12 people and injured several others in a shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

Hoyer was responding to Ben White, host of Politico’s Morning Money Breakfast Briefing, who said, “Speaking of hostage taking, if you take hostages, the only way that scenario works is if you’re willing to kill the hostage.”

“On the debt limit, do you think there is a real risk that we get very close to the point of being unable to borrow further with the Treasury and to default given the differences on the fiscal issues and insistence of many Republicans on either defunding Obamacare or cutting spending in a way the Democrats would never expect?” White asked Hoyer.

“Is this a riskier scenario than we’ve seen previously given how polarized the two parties seem to be right at this moment?” White also asked.

Hoyer said it was “riskier” because of what House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) were trying to do on the continuing resolution.

“You saw Heritage and Freedom Works and Club for Growth – all very energized and a very hard line, we’re-going-to-score-this-vote mode,” Hoyer said.

“All which, as I said, Republicans for the most part are concerned not about generals but about primaries, and they’re concerned about funding from these very, very hard-line right groups, right-wing groups – incorrect groups, but right-wing groups. And I think that in that context, we’re at greater risk,” he added.

“The irony is that Boehner and Cantor would both tell you if they were on this stage not extending the debt limit is an irrational, dangerous, economically devastating policy. My presumption is McConnell would say the same thing. He has said the same thing in the past,” Hoyer said.

“Ronald Reagan said it, and I won’t read you that verse, but I’ve got it in my pocket. That’s the scripture for another sermon. Ronald Reagan agreed on that so that almost all the leaders and certainly every former Republican president believes that taking that hostage is a hostage you do not want to create,” he said.

In a Sept. 26, 1987, radio address to the nation on the federal debt ceiling increase and deficit reduction, Reagan said, "Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits.

“Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility -- two things that set us apart from much of the world," Reagan added.