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Tea Party: Cut Spending Before Raising Debt Ceiling

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Freshmen congressional members of the Tea Party say they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without guaranteed structural changes to spending levels.

"The American people sent us here because in a large way they recoiled against a lot of this spending the President was putting upon us," Representative Joe Walsh, R-Ill., said. "If you're going to ask this Congress to support a raise in the debt ceiling, there's got to be something structural on the spending side."

Representative Steve Southerland, R-Fla., agreed that guarantees on spending cuts must be made to secure his vote.

"We've got to have some guarantees going forward … that if we raise that debt ceiling, that we get this economy on a trajectory to where we service our debt," Southerland said. "It's going to have to be a lot more than just sweetening it. It's going to have to be concrete."

Fears about catastrophic consequences, like those described by Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner in an interview on ABC’s This Week, shouldn’t drive the debt ceiling vote, according to Representative Allen West, R-Fla.

"I don't believe in leadership by fear and intimidation. I think that leaders have to come up with viable solutions," said West, who advocated for reducing corporate tax rates to spur growth and a trigger mechanism for automatic spending cuts, which President Obama also proposed last week.

On entitlement reform, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., touted her support for Republican House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan's proposals to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, disputing that it would increase costs for seniors.

Walsh said Republicans are leading on entitlement reform regardless of the political fallout, and that they have pushed President Obama to match their proposals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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