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At a press conference on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made it clear to Speaker of the House John Boehner that the ball is in his court when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.

If Boehner and House Republicans bring a clean debt limit bill to the House floor, Pelosi said, “We will provide a huge number of votes.”

She then made her case that a government shutdown and a potential U.S. default on loans would be disastrous.

“Shutting down the government is one bad thing,” she said. “Not raising the debt limit is unleashing a torrent, a river of no return.” This is a real threat, she argues, because of radical House Republicans. “Republicans are determined to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to their radical demands,” said Pelosi, warning, “This poses a cataclysmic danger to the stability of our markets and the economic security of our middle class.”

Paradoxically, Speaker Boehner’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, insisted that it is not the intention of House Republicans to force a default on U.S. debt payments. “No one is threatening to default,” said Buck. “The president only uses these scare tactics to avoid having to show the courage needed to deal with our debt crisis. Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt limit increase, and this time should be no different.”

It will soon be clear if House Republicans will use the debt limit to “extort” President Obama and try to defund Obamacare, or if that is indeed not what they are threatening. As Pelosi made clear today, if Boehner truly wants to avoid default, he could pass a clean debt limit raise today.

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