Whip Hoyer on MSNBC's Hardball Discussing Debt Limit Negotiations

See video

how far apart are they? are the democrats worried president obama will give away too much to get a deal? mr. leader, you have a tough job. i don't know how you're getting through this. i really mean this. i've heard a report today there's going to be some kind of effort to look at changes down the road that we can't cut taxes or rather raise taxes right now. we can't cut benefits right now because of the economy being so precarious. does that mean we're going to have to push the big changes to deal with the deficit and debt, going to have to go down the road a bit and to the long term, maybe more than ten years?

chris, i don't know about more than ten years, but certainly as you know, simpson boles, senator simpson and former chief of staff irskin boles, in their report they proposed making substantial cuts, raising revenues and across the board with all items of expansion. but they said in the near term, meaning the next year of so, we need to be very careful that we did not have the opposite effect by dampening down the struggling economy, obviously, as we saw today, which will decrease revenues and make the problem worse, not better. so in the short term, i agree with the bowles-simpson suggestion that we be very careful in the short term. there's no doubt, however, in the white house yesterday, or thursday -- yesterday -- there was a clear agreement that this was a serious, serious challenge that confronted us and it demanded at all of us try to come together and reach an agreement whereby we will certainly over the next 10 years and 20 years bring this deficit town and bring the debt down because it's not sustainable.

do most of the members in your caucus agree that this is an urgent matter, that this is not a kabuki dance, that this august 2nd is a reality, you cannot afford to have the world money markets think of the united states as a deadbeat.

absolutely. i think that the entire caucus, to a person, believes that putting the united states of america in the position where it doesn't pay its bills will have ramifications to everybody in this country and around the world. as a matter of fact, i've told the speaker and i've told mr. cantor, the republican leader, that democrats would come up with at least 150 votes to make sure that we extend the debt limit so we cannot default and pay the bills that we have already incurred. so that i think the answer is emphatically, yes, chris, we believe this is a very serious issue and secretary geithner made it clear after august 2nd, there's no maneuvering room, we'll run out of ways to maneuver to pay our bills and we will be in default. that we cannot let happen.

the president said the other day social security as well as medicare, they're all on the table. how's that selling with your caucus?

well, i think -- i've said many times everything needs to be on the table. leader pelosi has said the same. we have also said that we must not touch the benefits social security recipients are receiving or that undermine medicare benefits. we have not said that, therefore, they ought to be off the table. i agree, though, with leader pelosi, you just used her quote. social security has not been part of the problem. as a matter of fact, social security up until this year has been, as you well know, chris, providing surpluses which we have used. so social security is not the problem, but we do need to strengthen and make social security sustainable over the d consider social security on its own merits without adversely those getting benefits. the fact is everything needs to be on the table but not every facet of everything should be on the table. we don't think -- i agree with leader pelosi, we don't certainly want to look at reducing health care costs for people or reducing social security benefits because we want to give large tax cuts to the wealthiest in america. that's not, i think, a policy that the american public thinks is either smart, or frankly, moral.

it's going to be a tough couple days. thank you so much. u.s. congressman steny Hoyer, house democratic leader.

thank you, chris.