5:02pm

Tue May 31, 2011
It's All Politics

Democrats Told To Vote 'No' On Debt-Ceiling Boost

Politics is not only the art of the possible; it's the art of setting traps for your opponents.

Which is why House Democrats are being told by one of their leaders to vote against the very thing many of them said they wanted.

For weeks, a number of Democrats have called for a "clean" vote on raising the $14.3 trillion debt-ceiling, a vote on legislation containing no controversial spending cuts.

After initially balking at the request, House Republicans shifted tactics. They would give Democrats what they wanted. It's kind of like martial arts where you use your opponent's momentum against him.

By allowing the vote, the GOP hopes to get Democrats on record as voting to raise the debt ceiling, something that's unpopular with many voters.

Part of that unpopularity may be because many voters think the debt ceiling rise would just encourage new deficit spending.

Also, they either haven't heard or don't believe the financial doomsday scenarios from the administration and economic and financial experts.

In reality, it will only allow the government continue to pay its current bills.

Also, it would be a wasted vote since the legislation won't pass without Republican support, and there is none.

Given all that, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Democrats' second in command, told fellow Democrats they should vote no on the legislation.

As The Hill reported:

"My advice to them would be not to play this political charade," Hoyer said at his weekly press briefing.

NPR's David Welna reported for the network's newscast that some lawmakers on both sides professed ignorance of what the other side was up to. If this were true, they'd be the only ones who didn't know.

DAVID: New Jersey House Democrat Rob Andrews says House Republicans are playing with fire by forcing a doomed vote on raising the debt ceiling that could rattle markets:

ANDREWS: I don't know what the aim of it is, but the consequences are incredibly reckless. :4

DAVID: But as Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling points out, Democrats had earlier demanded that there be no strings attached to a measure raising the debt ceiling:

HENSARLING: I don't quite understand how they can now be protesting us holding a vote on what they asked us to hold a vote on.

DAVID: Democrats say Republicans in fact want a chance to be on record voting against raising the debt ceiling so they can vote to do so if a bipartisan deal is reached that includes debt reduction measures.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.