As House Speaker John Boehner works to build support for his plan to avert a federal debt crisis, he faces new criticism from the tea party wing of the Republican party.
When members of the Tea Party Patriots were polled on Tuesday, 81.5 percent said they are "not satisfied with the leadership of the House,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator for the group, at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday. The group says it is the largest tea party organization in America, with 3,500 locally affiliated groups around the country.
When the Tea Party Patriots supporters were surveyed about whether there should be a new House speaker, 74.1 percent “either thought we should or were undecided and leaning towards a new speaker,” Ms. Martin said. The informal poll was conducted online and produced what she described as “tens of thousands of responses.”
“The reason we asked is that people are bringing it up to us – maybe we should see about a different speaker,” Martin said.
Tea Party Patriots echoed the call. “Boehner has been around a long time. He is part of the old guard and people are looking for a new way of doing things in Washington," said Mark Meckler, another Tea Party Patriot national coordinator at the Monitor breakfast.
These challenges to his leadership come just as Boehner tries to rally support for his plan to cut the deficit and increase the federal debt ceiling. The Treasury Department has said the government will run out of borrowing power – and be unable to pay all of its bills – after August 2. Boehner is trying to convince his 87-member freshman class, many elected with tea party support, to vote for his plan to avert the debt crisis.
Fiscal conservatives have been unhappy with Boehner’s plan, arguing spending cuts should be deeper. On Tuesday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the Boehner plan would cut $850 billion in spending over 10 years rather than the $1.2 trillion that had been advertised. The CBO said it would cut only $1 billion from the deficit in the next year. Boehner is modifying the plan to increase the spending cuts so they are larger than the increase in the debt ceiling the measure provides.
Under the Speaker's plan, the nation's debt ceiling would be raised by up to $2.7 trillion in two steps. An increase of $900 billion would take place immediately. A second increase would take place after a bipartisan commission recommended additional budget cuts.