Sen. Pat Toomey warned Wednesday of a possible government shutdown if President Barack Obama insists on raising the nation's debt limit again in February without making significant cuts in federal spending.
"We absolutely have to have this fight over the debt limit," the Pennsylvania Republican said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," adding that congressional Republicans have to be ready to push a temporary shutdown if necessary to force the president's hand.
"We Republicans need to be willing to tolerate a temporary, partial government shutdown. . . . We only can solve this problem by getting spending under control and restructuring entitlement programs," Toomey said.
The conservative Toomey, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, also declared that Republicans would not accept any more tax increases as part of a debt limit deal with the president.
"We are totally done," said Toomey, who voted in favor of the bipartisan bill to avert the fiscal cliff, which increases the tax rate on the nation's wealthiest while maintaining the current rates for 99 percent of Americans.
"We spared as many Americans as we possibly could on tax increases," Toomey said in defense of his vote.
But he said the president now "has his trophy" of tax hikes on the wealthiest and should be willing to get down to work on spending issues, which the senator insisted is the only way to put the nation back on a fiscally responsible path.
"There is no tax solution to this. It's a spending solution and this president doesn't want to go there," he said. "We're gonna have to force it, and we're gonna have to force it over the debt ceiling."
Toomey dismissed concerns about another possible downgrade to the U.S. credit rating and the market chaos that could ensue if Congress and the president get into another fight over the debt limit — like the one in 2011 that did in fact lead to a downgrade.
Toomey said a temporary disruption in the markets and the credit rating "is a hell of a lot better than the path we're on," which he insisted would only make things worse in the long-run if Congress and White House fail to deal with the nation's rising debt.
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