Bachmann adamantly opposes raising debt ceilingby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio,
Catharine Richert, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — As Republican leaders in Congress sought Thursday to persuade their members to vote for legislation that would solve the nation's debt crisis, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann made it clear that she would not fall in line.
In a high-profile speech at the National Press Club, Bachmann said she does not think the federal government will default on its obligations if the debt ceiling is not raised by Tuesday, as White House officials have warned.
"We have to stop making raising the debt limit routine," said Bachmann, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president.
Her remarks came as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, urged Republicans to vote for legislation that would increase the federal debt limit in two stages into next year in exchange for significant spending cuts.
But Bachmann reiterated her steadfast opposition to any plan that would raise the debt ceiling saying that the country needs to address what she called its spending problem. She said people from across the nation agree with her not with Washington politicians who are looking for a way to borrow more. Bachmann, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, was particularly critical of President Barack Obama's remark that most people outside of Washington probably have never heard of the debt ceiling.
"That's shocking because I've been traveling around the country and I can assure the president that the people outside of Washington, D.C. have not only heard of the term the debt ceiling before, they understand perfectly what raising the debt limit will mean for them and for the next generation of Americans, their children and grandchildren," she said.
The Congresswoman from Minnesota's 6th District accused President Barack Obama of a "failure of leadership" on the debt ceiling and said the Democrat is "out of touch" with the American people.
For months, Bachmann said, the Obama administration has pushed back the debt ceiling deadline. She suggested the federal government might have enough money to operate normally well past Tuesday's deadline.
"First the deadline was in the spring; then it was moved to August 2," she said. "And now several news sources have reported that the deadline might not be until August 10th or perhaps even in September."
While Bachmann said she would not support any debt ceiling increase, she predicted a plan will come out of future negotiations between the White House and Congressional leaders. She also predicted whatever solution is ultimately agreed upon will not include any spending reform.
Most national polls show Bachmann running second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among Republicans. Iowa-specific polls show Bachmann and Romney running neck and neck among likely GOP caucus goers.
Since declaring her candidacy at the GOP debate in Manchester, N.H. last month, Bachmann had avoided campaign gaffes, and held her own on the campaign trail, in interviews and at venues like the National Press Club forum.
Although Bachmann's anti-establishment demeanor has helped her gain momentum, her insistence on not compromising on principles she holds dear could paint her into a corner when it comes to attracting the kind of broad GOP support she will need to win the GOP nomination, Carleton College Politician Science Professor Steven Schier said.
"Michele Bachmann is demonstrating that she is not crazy, that she is articulate and posed," Schier said. "But she is also telling a lot of people that her positions are on the far right wing of her party and that may limit her appeal."
The Minnesota congresswoman also took advantage of the national spotlight to burnish her conservative credentials, praising former President Ronald Reagan, revered by many Republicans. She also retold the story of how as a college student she voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter during his successful campaign to win the presidency but became a Republican after being disappointed by his policies.
Bachmann also deflected questions about recent news reports that her husband's counseling clinic urges prayer to rid patients of homosexuality.
"I am extremely proud of my husband," she said. "I am running for the presidency of the United States. My husband is not running for the presidency... Neither is our business."
Bachmann also talked about her experiences so far on the campaign trail. She said repeatedly hears from people who "fear they may have lived through pinnacle of American greatness."
"They want progress," she said. "And they certainly want that for their kids."
- All Things Considered, 07/28/2011, 5:51 p.m.
Mark Zdechlik covers politics for MPR News.