“President Obama, is your spending spree really that important to you that you would put at risk the full faith and credit of the United States?” Bachmann said. “We intend to pay the interest on the debt. We have the means to do so.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy M. Geithner has warned that failure to raise the debt limit could cause the country to default on its loans and trigger a global financial crisis, and Obama has recently suggested that the elderly may not get their Social Security checks next month.
Bachmann was joined by fellow conservative Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at the event, which highlighted legislation sponsored by King aimed at setting spending priorities if the debt ceiling is not raised. Freezing the debt ceiling has become a key talking point on the campaign trail for Bachmann, who has risen in the polls and is now considered the front-runner in Iowa.
Bachmann did not take questions about another issue that dominated her campaign in recent days — her husband’s counseling center in Minnesota. Two television networks have carried reports alleging that the Christianity-based center engages in therapy aimed at “curing” homosexuals.
Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, has denied that the center provides “reparative therapy,” which has been discredited by several major medical associations. But new questions arose over the weekend after a gay rights group conducted an undercover investigation that purported to prove that such therapies take place there.
Bachmann has not addressed the allegations and ignored a question called out to her on the subject Wednesday.
Her position on the debt limit puts her to the right of many of her conservative colleagues in Congress, and even some tea party groups. Bachmann has said she will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless a deal to do so includes the repeal or defunding of the health-care overhaul — something that Bachmann has acknowledged is extremely unlikely.
She has so far declined to sign a pledge backed by many conservative and tea party groups, called “Cut, Cap, Balance,” which would require any deal to raise the debt ceiling to include caps on government spending and passage of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.
The King legislation, called the PROMISES Act, would affirm that the government intends to pay the interest on its debt and fulfill its salary obligations to service members. “How could anyone disagree with these two items, that they simply must be paid?” Bachmann said. “We can negotiate the rest of the spending thereafter.”
The lawmakers at the news conference argued that the president is exaggerating the risk posed by failing to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Asked why they thought Republican leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) also feared catastrophe, Gohmert responded that he believed they were being misled. “I would encourage our speaker to quit believing the president when it comes to these scare tactics,” he said.
He suggested that a more clearheaded president — perhaps Bachmann — would take a more measured approach.
“We need a president — maybe somebody in this room — who will say, ‘It’s going to be okay, and here’s the plan to get us there,’ ” he said.