Tea Party to Washington: 'Pain Should Be Shared by Everyone'


And despite wide agreement that a showdown is looming over tea partiers' willingness to authorize more debt, the freshmen members of Congress indicated that they can support a higher national debt limit -- if it's accompanied by an agreement to achieve a balanced budget.

"I personally think that's the answer," Lee said.

"If there's a balanced budget Constitutional amendment that is tied to the debt ceiling, I will vote to increase the debt limit under those conditions," Rep.-elect Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said. "But we have to make progress. This unsustainable deficit that we are incurring is the greatest national security threat that American faces."

When asked about the controversy voting to increase the debt limit might cause, one member had strong words: "There is a time for campaigning and a time to govern," Guinta said. "There is now a time to govern and everyone needs to come to the table with solutions."

When pressed about whether each would vote in support of the Continuing Resolution, a type of legislation used to fund government agencies if a formal appropriations bill has not been signed into law by the end of the Congressional fiscal year, the crowd of newcomers indicated they were open but their votes would come with conditions.

"This is something that has been growing over time and it's not going to be cured right away," Gosar said. "We have to look at what created this problem and set benchmarks. I'm not willing to look at [voting for the Continuing Resolution] unless I see benchmarks and I'm given some concessions as to when those benchmarks will be met."

"We should have a chance to introduce spending cuts," Paul said.

'The Pain Should be Shared by Everyone'

When asked where the cuts should come from, Rep.-elect Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., suggested restoring all spending levels to 2008, across the board, and ensuring unspent stimulus funds remain that way.

And what if jobs are lost as a result of the cuts?

"That is typical Washington speak," Guinta fired back in response to a question about potential teacher lay-offs as a result of deep cuts in government spending. "We are here to represent and reflect the values of the country and the country has said very directly, 'Stop the spending and restore a small sense and size of government.'"

"Is this a big showdown?" Sawyer asked.

"There's got to be a time where you say 'no,' where you say 'no more.' We've got to get our house in order," Hartzler said.

Hartzler, whose home district of Missouri is a large beneficiary of farm subsidies, said even those, all $20 billion of them, should be "on the table."

"Right now we need to do the adult thing, the hard thing, not the easy thing," she said.

"Every single thing needs to be on the table," Rep.-elect Mike Grimm, R-N.Y., added. "Because the pain should be shared by everyone."

But as to $5 billion a month being spent in Afghanistan, not one of the 10 would go on the record saying that type of spending should be cut.

'Bigger Than the Tea Party' or Backing Off the Rhetoric?

For all the fiery campaign rhetoric thrown around during the midterm elections, the freshmen members seem to have scaled back their rhetoric now that they've arrived in Washington. A few even refused to call themselves Tea Partiers.

"I feel I'm American first and here to serve the people of New Hampshire," Guinta said.

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