WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on Thursday said the debt ceiling debate is just the latest chapter in a long history of Republicans getting rolled when it comes to spending fights, and said that's why she unequivocally opposes any increase in the amount the government can borrow.
Rep. Bachmann (R-Minn.) gave her most complete explanation to date of why she opposes raising the debt ceiling, a position that has endeared her to the conservatives grassroots but which has raised questions about her seriousness, given the economic stakes of a potential government default.
During a 30-minute speech and an extended question and answer session at the National Press Club, Bachmann said that she is confident the U.S. government will not default on its debts to creditors who hold U.S. treasury bonds.
"I have no doubt that we will not lose the full faith and credit of the United States," she said, referring to the theory that the government can prioritize its payments to ensure that interest payments to bondholders are made.
But she cited the results of past negotiations over spending levels between Republican presidents and Democratic lawmakers as a reason for why she has taken a nonnegotiable stance.
"In 1982, President Reagan agreed to one dollar in tax increases for every three dollars he would receive in spending cuts, accepted by a Democratic Congress. He later acknowledged that what he actually received was the inverse: it was three dollars of new taxes for every dollar of spending cuts. Not a deal the 40th president of the United States would wish to repeat," Bachmann said.
She continued, "In 1990, the Democrats convinced President [George H.W.] Bush to violate his no new taxes pledge in exchange for again illusory spending cuts. Once again, the spending cuts were small and the spending cuts were fleeting."
"How many times do we have to see this movie in Washington, D.C., before we know how it will end? That's why I refuse to be a party to deceiving the American people yet again. I won't do it," she said. "I will vote against any proposal that includes tax increases or raises the debt ceiling."
In essence, Bachmann said that any spending cuts included in the current deals being debated in Congress are a mix of parlor tricks and small ball, ultimately avoiding long-term structural reform of the size and scope of the federal government.
Repeatedly, Bachmann criticized President Obama for not presenting his own plans to deal with entitlements in the long term or for a debt ceiling increase that can pass both chambers of Congress. Yet while she reserved the entirety of her criticism for Obama and praised House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) work in negotiations, she avoided answering when asked if Boehner should be "ousted" if he presides over an increase in the debt ceiling.
"I am running for president of the United States," she said. "I am not running for Speaker of the House."
Similarly, when Bachmann was asked about reports that her husband's Christian counseling clinic has advised homosexuals to try to change their sexual orientation -- commonly referred to as "reparative therapy" -- the congresswoman had a ready dodge.
"I am extremely proud of my husband," she said. "But I am running for the presidency of the United States. My husband is not ... I am more than happy to stand for questions on running for president."
Bachmann's appearance was her first major public appearance since news broke early last week that she suffers from severe migraine headaches. She was not asked about the issue.