Sen. Lee: White House 'business as usual' attitude on debt ceiling must end

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said a feeling of "business as usual" pervades President Obama's administration in terms of government spending and suggested the president was participating in a "charade" to get the nation's debt ceiling lifted.

Lee is among those Republican lawmakers who are making their support for raising the debt ceiling conditional on major budgetary changes to government programs and departments — “binding, permanent, structural spending reforms,” as Lee put it.

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Specifically, Lee is a co-sponsor, with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), of the Hatch-Lee Balanced Budget Amendment, and said he "will aggressively oppose efforts to raise the debt ceiling” until both houses of Congress pass that amendment.

In his op-ed published Monday in the National Review Online, Lee pointed to Obama's expressed confidence that the debt ceiling would be lifted later this year, allowing the government to continue borrowing and spending.

Lee quoted the president from a speech at a fundraiser earlier in the month, when Obama said, "We will raise the debt limit. We always have. We will do it again."

"President Obama’s words highlight the charade that surrounds the recurring debate over whether it is in America’s best interest to increase the debt ceiling," Lee wrote. "The president articulates a simple sentiment that pervades his administration: Business in Washington is best when it’s business as usual."

Lee further described the "charade" as a "pattern of pretending to debate the factors contributing to Washington’s debt addiction ... a rehearsal of rhetoric that, while increasingly circular, produces one-directional results. "

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned that not raising the debt ceiling would be "catastrophic" for the U.S. economy; White House spokesman Jay Carney said it would be “Armageddon-like.” If the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit is not raised, the United States could be at risk of defaulting on its debt.

“The debt-ceiling charade must come to an end,” Lee said. "And the federal government must implement binding, permanent, structural spending reforms."

Lee is one of 47 Senate Republicans who have signed on to Senate Joint Resolution 10, the balanced-budget amendment, which would prohibit Congress from spending more than it collects each year, unless two-thirds of the members of both houses vote to authorize a limited deficit.

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