A Hard Line on Debt: Tea Party Sen Says "No Way"

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:

At 39 years old, Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) is about to become the youngest member of the United States. He may also be the most conservative.

In a Subway Series interview with ABC News, Senator-elect Lee staked-out a no-compromise, hard-line stand on the national debt that may soon put him at odds with his own party leadership. Lee told us that when Congress is asked to vote early next year on raising the national debt limit – a usually routine vote that allows the government to borrow the money needed to finance annual budget deficits – he will vote no.

“I’m as serious as they come,” Lee told ABC News. “I could not be more serious when I say I’m not going to vote to increase the national debt limit.”

The U.S. government is expected to hit its current debt limit -- $14.3 trillion – sometime next spring. Economists warn that failure to raise the limit could trigger a crisis the U.S. bond market, raising the specter that the U.S. would default on its bond obligations.

Lee doesn’t see it that way. A failure to raise the debt limit, Lee says, “will force a discussion on a balanced budget amendment, and a discussion about the need to balance the budget every year.”

But incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner says it would be irresponsible for Congress to vote against raising the debt limit.

“We’re going to have to deal with it as adults,” Boehner told reporters on Thursday. “Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part.”

For Lee, not even the prospect of a federal default on debt or a government shutdown would convince him to raise the debt limit.

“If those who so desperately want to keep mortgaging the future of their unborn grandchildren, want to push that issue, that’s unfortunate, but that’s their choice,” he said. “I’m not going to contribute to their choice to mortgage the future of our unborn grandchildren by making it comfortable for them to engage in that kind of behavior. It’s in our generational debt transfer, and I think that’s wrong.”

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