Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Thursday criticized congressional Republicans' spending plan as too tepid, saying it runs the risk of alienating a GOP base hungry for steep cuts.
Asked to rate the performance of Republicans in Congress on cutting spending, the potential presidential candidate said the party must push for "much greater cuts," mentioning Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) proposal to cut $500 billion in one year, to significantly pare down the nation's projected $1.6 trillion budget deficit.
Palin's comments are a shot across the bow of Republican leaders in the House and Senate, who pushed for a bill that would cut a total of $61 billion from current spending levels. The Senate failed to advance the plan and did not approve a Democratic bill that would have cut more than $6 billion, leaving lawmakers at a stalemate over how to fund the government and avert a government shutdown.
Democrats, who control the Senate and the White House, have encouraged Republicans to meet them in the middle on a spending proposal, arguing they have moved toward the GOP position. But Palin suggested that compromising on spending cuts, one of the main pillars of Tea Party groups that helped Republicans take control of the House in 2010, could carry political risks.
"They need to be bold and strong and they need those steel spines," Palin said of Republicans. "And they need to keep Americans believing that the GOP principles will be able to be those things, when they're plugged in appropriately, to get the economy back on the right track.
"We're going to lose faith in the party if we just take these little, tiny baby steps -- you know, a million here, a billion there — to start ratcheting down a $14 trillion debt," she added.
"If that takes a fight, hopefully the GOP leadership is willing to fight for America's future."
The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee played a significant role in the 2010 midterm contests, becoming a Tea Party favorite while raising large sums of money for her political action committee and endorsing candidates nationally. In all, 19 of her endorsed candidates won House races and six claimed victory in Senate contests.
As for her own political future, Palin said she would likely wait until other candidates officially jumped into the race before making a decision whether to run.
"Thinking along those lines is unconventional for me, because I have never waited for anybody else to line up and then I jump in at the end," she said. "But in this case, because it is so monumental and so affecting on a family, I probably would wait to see who is willing to put their name forward in the hat who are willing to serve this country."