Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) said he found it hard to take the president “seriously” ahead of Sunday evening’s White House meeting on raising the debt ceiling.
“I’m not optimistic. I think the president has been gaming Republicans. He has been talking about this for six months, and the only proposal he sent us is his budget to raise the debt $10 trillion,” said DeMint on Fox News Sunday.
DeMint supported the Speaker’s calls for a smaller deal instead of the president’s broad package.
“We can't solve the Social Security, Medicare, tax issue this week. But we can agree that it's time to stop spending more than we're bringing in,” he said.
He also said the president and Treasury Secretary Geithner were responsible for making “contingency plans” to ensure that bills continued to be paid after the Aug. 2 deadline.
“I think Secretary Geithner has been irresponsible. He's playing chicken little here. … There would certainly be disruption … but this is not a deadline that we should rush and make a bad deal,” DeMint said.
“It would be catastrophic to default. And we shouldn't default. But we're not going to default. And the president's obligation is to pay those bills. And if they have to have contingency plans to make sure other functions of government go on -- again, we want to give the president his increase in debt limit.”
DeMint reiterated calls for a balanced budget amendment. “Give the American people and the states a chance to decide if the federal government should, over the next few years, bring our budget into balance,” he said.
He has asked 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls to sign onto a "cut, cap and balance" pledge. So far, eight presidential candidates have signed the pledge. "I'm still encouraging people to sign a pledge, because that's a commitment to oppose the debt limit, unless we get real spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment," said DeMint.