Hoyer joins Obama in change of heart over debt ceiling

Chris Moody Contributor
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In preparation for the looming debate to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, a top House Democrat joined President Obama by issuing his own own personal mea culpa for opposing a debt ceiling increase in years past.

The number two Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who called Republican efforts to raise the debt ceiling “immoral” when he voted against it in 2004, is the latest to apologize for his position on the issue. During a briefing with reporters Tuesday morning, Hoyer said his nay vote seven years ago was a “mistake.”

“Let me be the first to observe that I have voted against the debt limit in the past. That was a mistake.,” Hoyer said. “The point we were trying to make when we voted against the debt limit was that cutting revenues, ie. taxes, on a regular basis and then increasing spending was a policy that inevitably led to debt.”

When the time came to raise the debt limit under President Obama in 2009, then-Majority Leader Hoyer pushed Democrats to vote for it. The measure passed with with exactly 218 votes, the lowest number of votes required for a majority in the House.

Congress must vote again this summer to increase the nation’s $14 trillion debt ceiling, a prospect many Republicans in both chambers have vowed to vote against, or the federal government will default.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday said that President Obama “regrets” his 2004 vote against raising the debt limit, and also called it “a mistake.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said in 2006 that raising the debt limit would “weaken our country” and is “the last thing we should do,” however, has yet to join the apology tour. When pressed in January on NBC’s Meet The Press as to how he could support raising the debt ceiling after opposing it so fiercely five years ago, he said that he couldn’t remember voting against it, but today “there’s no alternative” to raising it.

“I don’t really know what vote you’re talking about, I’ve cast about 15,000 votes,” Reid told host David Gregory when asked to reconcile his opposition in 2006 with his support in 2011. “I’m saying today that we have to raise the debt ceiling.”

When asked Tuesday if the Nevada Democrat had an answer to Gregory’s question — four months after the NBC interview — Reid’s spokesman told The Daily Caller, “I think he stated it pretty clearly there.”

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