Just how Democrats plan to proceed may ultimately depend on their willingness to stomach the unpleasant consequences of letting Republicans shoot the hostages. But in a revealing moment, Pelosi hinted Democrats may have reached their breaking point.
"[W]e wouldn't let our country default," Pelosi said. "But I'll say it this way to you. A default is a much more serious consequence than a shutdown of government for a few days."
"Expect us to be more visible in terms of what we say here and how we mobilize out side to make sure the Republicans know the risk of taking us to the brink," she added, when asked to provide more details. "It's to make it a completely unacceptable place for the Republicans to go because it will have public consequence."
Even if Democrats are willing to go there, they'll likely face another tough choice at the end of the year -- between a deficit reduction package that Republicans are insisting contain no tax increases, and pulling the trigger on an enforcement mechanism that cuts Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and doctors, and slashes defense spending by half a trillion dollars. For now, Pelosi's saying Dems will work hard to avoid that penalty. But their frustration is already rising.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is already furious that Republicans are setting this fight up to play out exactly as the debt limit fight did.
"So what does that leave the committee to do?" Reid told Politico. "Should Pelosi and I just not appoint and walk away?"