POLITICS

Conservatives Pressure GOP Lawmakers To Demand Deep Cuts Before Agreeing To Raise Debt Ceiling

06/22/2011 07:09 pm ET | Updated Aug 22, 2011

WASHINGTON -- A coalition of conservative groups tried to hike the pressure on Republican lawmakers who might be considering a compromise on the ongoing debt talks Wednesday, demanding that they sign a pledge to demand deep cuts, spending caps and a balanced budget amendment.

Calling their initiative "Cut, Cap, Balance," the groups pledged to punish any Republican who didn't stick to the principles they laid out.

"The GOP must begin flexing their muscles and live up to its promise to slash the behemoth size of this government," said ForAmerica Executive Director David Bozell. "ForAmerica will document and expose to our 1.5 million members any Republican who fails to do so. We are confident voters will give them a one-way ticket back to private life."

The group banded together today in support of the Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge, an effort to ensure the debt ceiling will not be raised without immediate, major cuts in spending. This pledge, along with the CAP Act put forward by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is part of a collective effort to put Congress in a "fiscal straitjacket" to help reduce the national debt.

The initiative was pushed by Senate Tea Party-favorite Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and backed by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), along with Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) in a press conference to tout the pledge. It urges Congress to make substantial cuts in spending, create enforceable spending caps and pass a balanced budget amendment to rein in national debt.

Among the groups adding heft to the threats were FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, the Family Research Council Action, the National Taxpayers Union, the Independent Women's Forum and the 60 Plus Association -- all of which played significant roles in the last election.

Organizers said the Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge has garnered more than 11,000 signatures from constituents.

Sen. Paul stated he will only vote to raise the debt ceiling if a Constitutional amendment including both a spending limitation and a super-majority for raising taxes is passed.

"I'm convinced after my short time here in Washington that the only way we will ever get our fiscal House in order is to amend the Constitution and to balance the budget," Rand Paul said. "It is the only way I will vote to raise the debt ceiling."

Many Democrats have expressed their opposition for the measures, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who said in a statement to the Senate Finance Committee that he does "not believe we can or should allow our nation’s economy and financial stability, in the form of a vote on the debt ceiling, to be held hostage to demands for legislation that would mandate indiscriminate cuts to programs that Americans depend on.”

If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline, economists have warned the nation faces serious economic danger. Specifically, the funding for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and veterans' benefits could end and the United States could default on its debt. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has expressed confidence that the debt ceiling will be raised, saying the risks of not raising the ceiling "would be catastrophic".

Vice President Joe Biden has been leading bipartisan negotiations to cut a deal on spending and the debt, with reports suggesting the group was looking at a minimum of $2.4 trillion in cuts to match the proposed hike in the nation's debt limit.

Such a figure would be unacceptable to some on both sides of the aisle. For example, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) declared on Tuesday that he would only back a package that cuts the debt by at least $4 trillion over 10 years.

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