Two high-profile Republicans have come out against raising the federal debt limit. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and former governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota said on Fox News Sunday that GOP lawmakers should take a hard line with the Obama administration on spending, specifically in regard to the upcoming vote to increase the debt limit, even if it means threatening to shut down the government (or actually doing it).
And they aren’t just talking the talk — Christie narrowly avoided a shutdown earlier this year when he refused to take up a Democratic proposal to raise taxes on the rich, while Pawlenty actually did allow the Minnesota government to shut down for nine days in 2005 over a disagreement with the Democratic legislature over taxes and spending.
Christie suggested that Republicans do what he did in New Jersey — by standing firm on principles, force Democrats to cave. “I think what [they] have to do is to go out to the public and make their case,” he said. “They won the election on those arguments. Now articulate those arguments and have the guts to put up or shut up.”
However, the New Jersey Republican stopped short of advocating a government shutdown. He said doing so would be unnecessary if Republicans succeed in making their case to the public. “I think if you close down government, in some respects you may have lost the argument,” he said.
As for Pawlenty, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2012, he favored a more aggressive approach, saying he was “glad we had that showdown in Minnesota” in 2005. He said Congress “should not raise the debt ceiling,” but to avoid default should pass legislation allowing the federal government to “sequence the pain of its [spending] bills” and then have a debate about further reductions in spending.
Go here for video (and full transcript) of both interviews.
For more on the debate over the debt ceiling, and how Republicans have all but resigned to raising it (in return for spending concessions), see my article on the homepage.