Freshman lawmakers preview debt ceiling battle

Posted at 11:56 AM, Jan 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-06 11:56:13-05

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) — The upcoming fight in Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling was previewed Sunday by two freshman lawmakers representing opposing viewpoints on whether spending cuts should be paired with the increase.

Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have said they plan to use the battle over raising the debt ceiling as leverage for more spending cuts, which were left out of last week’s deal to avert the fiscal cliff. If the ceiling isn’t raised by late February or early March, the United States runs the risk of defaulting on its obligations, because the Treasury would no longer have enough money available to pay all the country’s bills.

Speaking Sunday, first-term Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina said he would “absolutely not” support any increase in the debt limit that wasn’t linked to cuts in federal spending.

“The bottom line is that we can’t continue down the path we’re on of borrowing money to pay our own debt,” Hudson told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “We’ve got to have serious spending cuts. We’ve got to have dollar-for-dollar within the same year.”

One person not up for that debate: President Barack Obama, who said right after the House passed a final fiscal cliff compromise, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.”

Other Democrats, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, agree. She said on “State of the Union” that the haggling over spending cuts before raising the debt limit, as described by Hudson, could potentially destroy America’s economy.

“We cannot jeopardize the full faith and credit, and the credit rating, of this country,” the North Dakota lawmaker said. “We have got to take this in an incremental way and recognize that we need these spending cuts. We need to take a look at where we go on a path forward.”

Part of that path, she said, was getting more Americans back to work so they’re paying federal income tax, which would increase revenues and help pay down debt.