Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee
says it’s ironic that New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer would refer to the tea party as extremists when the only thing he sees as extreme is the skyrocketing U.S. debt. The leader of the Senate Tea Party Caucus also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Wednesday the tea party “must be doing something right, to garner so much attention — and favored action is a balanced-budget amendment to meet its spending-cut goals.
“Well, first of all, I think it’s ironic that that statement is made. I think what’s extreme is the $15 trillion debt, that we’re adding to it at a rate of $1.7 trillion a year,” Lee said, referring to comments Schumer made about the tea party in a phone conversation with fellow Democrats, while not aware his microphone was on, and reporters were listening.
“What’s extreme is a government takeover of everything from our banks, to our hospitals, to automakers. And we can’t continue down the current path because that is an extreme path,” Lee continued. “We must be doing something right for these comments to be made. I think it’s interesting that instead of talking about the real cuts that need to be made, they’re having special meetings just to figure out what to call us next. I think that’s a good sign.”
Lee noted the American people are the ones bearing the brunt of budget inactivity on the part of both houses of Congress — and both sides of the political aisle.
“Well, I think the people who are gaming the American people are the same people in both houses of Congress — and unfortunately, sometimes in both political parties — who have been content to spend indefinitely, in perpetuity, more than we take in each year, to spend money that we don’t have.” Lee said. “And it has to stop, and there has to be a plan to bring it to a stop. And that's why I think the answer has to [be] . . . a balanced budget amendment, because Congress will continue to spend more than it takes in until it's prohibited from doing so.”
Van Susteren asked whether the tea party might be holding up the budgetary process, by being over ambitious in demanding deeper spending cuts than the GOP leadership.
“Well, look, I can’t vote for anything that doesn’t at least get us moving in the direction of balancing our budget, to where we could balance our budget within a few years,” Lee said. “And by a few years, I mean definitely within our lifetime — certainly less than 10 years, maybe five years or so.
“None of the budgets, none of the packages that we’ve been talking about even take us in that direction,” he continued. “And that’s what I'm looking for. I can’t vote for anything that doesn’t get us there.”
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