Tea Party leader: Boehner must go

Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips called on House Speaker John Boehner "to go" and be replaced by a "Tea Party Speaker of the House" in a blog post Wednesday morning, the same day that Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said that her group was looking into the same idea.

"Now Boehner is in the process of surrendering again. He is surrendering not to [President] Obama, but to the status quo in Washington," Phillips wrote. "The House passed Cut, Cap and Balance, which would cut $111 billion from the budget. It would cap spending and set a good course for the future."

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Martin sounded a similar theme at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, saying that in a just-completed poll of their members, four-fifths are not satisfied with Boehner and nearly three-quarters would like to have a new Speaker of the House.

"Maybe we should see about a different Speaker right away," she said.

Phillips was more strident in his criticism. "Boehner has no real interest in solving the problems this country faces. ... He worships at the altar of massive spending," he wrote. "We need a Speaker who is a leader. We need someone with courage and vision. Boehner has none of those qualities. He is not a leader."

Phillips urged readers to call their legislators and advocate for Boehner "to go" and be replaced by a "Tea Party Speaker of the House."

Earlier this week Boehner unveiled a two-step proposal to increase the debt ceiling that attracted criticism from conservative members of his caucus. The proposal aims to raise the debt limit by roughly $900 billion and set up a commission to find another $3 trillion in deficit reduction.  Boehner's plan is likely to also require another debt-ceiling vote before the 2012 elections.

Many Republicans instead called on Boehner to back the House "cut, cap, and balance" proposal, which is unlikely to make it through the Senate. On Tuesday Republicans were scrambling to try and find 217 House votes to pass the Boehner plan, the same day that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that Boehner's plan would reduce the deficit by roughly $850 billion over 10 years, about $350 billion short of what he had been aiming for.

The Tea Party Patriots is a loose-knit group of approximately 3,500 local Tea Party groups around the country. Martin and Mark Meckler, co-founder, poll local leaders before taking policy or political positions.

Meckler derided Boehner's plan as "phantom cuts" that Congress could reverse in future years. He also said he was not worried about hitting the debt ceiling, and called the possibility of the federal government defaulting on its loans a "myth that has been pretty much debunked."

He slammed both parties for their handling of the debt-ceiling debate. "We're asking Congress, the leaders in both parties and the president to keep real," said Meckler. "There's nobody in a leadership position who's putting real cuts on the table."

The government could continue to pay off its loans and cover military costs, Social Security and Medicare in the case of a default, according to Meckler. When pressed on what cuts he would like to see, he said "it's not the job of individuals or outside organizations" to decide what cuts to make and that elected officials should find programs to axe.

The Tea Party groups' attacks aren't the first time Boehner has come under fire throughout the debt-ceiling negotiations. At one point during the talks, Boehner received pressure from his right flank to walk away from a so-called "grand bargain" that he and President Obama were reportedly close to finalizing. Democrats tried to capitalize on the criticism by arguing that Boehner was not, in fact, leading the GOP in negotiations and that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was really in charge. Boehner and Cantor both denied there was any rift between them or that anyone but Boehner was leading Republicans in the talks.

There have not yet been public calls from elected Republicans for Boehner to step down as Speaker. But the Tea Party movement is an influential one within the GOP, and this could spur some members to be more vocal in their criticisms of the Ohio Republican.