Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee
says he cannot sign off on the 2011 budget deal reached Friday because it does not contain restraint on long-term spending. Lee also said Tuesday on Fox News that he is not alone, as there are “multiple other Republican senators who are going to be voting the same way I am.”
“We are almost $1.7 trillion in debt with every new year of spending — we're almost $15 trillion in debt total,” Lee told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “And I've pledged not to vote for any of these spending packages unless, or until, the package is accompanied by some kind of long-term spending restraint — and we don't have that yet.
“And I think it's important for us to remember that the American people are concerned about this because they understand, Greta, the connection between jobs and the economy on the one hand and the debt on the other,” Lee continued. “This is not just a hypothetical esoteric problem — this is a problem that affects every aspect of our lives — and it's killing jobs at an estimated rate of one million a year.”
Van Susteren asked Lee, who helped form the Senate’s Tea Party Caucus, whether there were enough Senate votes to defeat the compromise and what kind of deal would satisfy those reluctant to accept the one on the table.
“I don't have a head count yet, but I know that I'm not alone — I know there are multiple other Republican senators who are going to be voting the same way I am,” Lee replied. “The bottom line number is less important to me than what accompanies it, perhaps a statutory spending cap . . . As we approach the debt ceiling vote, I'll be looking for something more permanent like a constitutional balanced budget amendment.”
Lee was asked what President Barack Obama has to do to get backing for his 2012 budget, which he will outline in a national speech Wednesday.
“Well, I hope that he's coming to the table ready to address entitlements, ready to address the fact that if we continue spending the same way we have been, then by the end of this decade, we'll be paying about a trillion dollars a year just in interest on national debt,” Lee said. “And we've got to change the way we spend money.
“I expect him to wade into the area of addressing the way we spend money, and including entitlements,” he continued. “I hope that my expectations will not be dashed.”
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