ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
A group of conservative lawmakers in the House and Senate have signed onto a pledge to oppose an increase to the debt ceiling if the legislation does not include three conditions: substantial spending cuts for the upcoming year, caps on federal spending, and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
So far, 11 senators and 14 representatives, including Texas congressman Ron Paul, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, have signed onto the pledge.
Paul, a Tea Party favorite, said that the pledge is “symbolic of what we’re up against and how difficult it is,” but said that it’s also evidence “that at least some of us are listening.”
“I have maintained that we shouldn’t have gotten in this trouble when we could have avoided it by just obeying the Constitution and only doing those things precisely authorized," Paul, R-Texas, said. "That’s what we should have been doing a long time ago, but in the meantime, we have a terrible problem to deal with – dealing with this deficit financing and I see no way that we can reach a resolution to this if we take anything off the table – whether it’s the foreign policy expenditures or the entitlements.”
“If we pretend that we can do this with nickeling and diming it — and think it’s an accounting problem — it’s not going to work. It’s much bigger than that," Paul added. "It has to do with defining the role of government. When the role of government is properly defined, the budget will be balanced.”
Sen. Jim DeMint, widely viewed as one of the most conservative members of the Senate, said that the election in 2012 might be the last chance for lawmakers to turn around the culture of spending before the damage is irreversible.
“We saw last year Americans stand up everywhere and begin to change how we do business here. It was a pretty exciting thing to watch as America woke up and decided to take back their government,” DeMint, R-South Carolina, said. “2012 is when we finish the job, but it is the final exam for America. I believe this could be our last chance to get things right, to turn things around, and our last point of leverage to actually force the stopping of this spending and borrowing and the growth of our debt – our last chance is this debt ceiling.”
DeMint said that the pledge provides voters a clear view for where candidates for political office stand and “what they’re willing to fight for.”
“What America wants today are representatives with the courage of their convictions, not only to say things, but to fight for them,” DeMint said. “That’s what we intend to do with millions of people behind us.”
“This is the one issue, this is all that matter – everything that matters to conservative politics and American principles,” he added. “If we want limited government, we will never get it as long as we have unrestricted spending in Washington, and that’s where we are today. The balanced budget is key to saving our country, pulling us back from a fiscal cliff and moving this country back towards its core principles.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a freshman lawmaker serving on the House Budget committee, said he was “proud to sign this pledge to my constituents.”
“They deserve to know that I am committed to defending fiscal responsibility here in Washington,” Huelskamp, R-Kansas, said in a statement. “After all, it is the American people who are at stake: they and their children will be forced to deal with the consequences of inaction. America must prosper again, and that begins with restoring discipline in spending and borrowing. Job creators need assurances that Washington has a plan to get its trillion-dollar deficits and $14.3 trillion debt under control.”