House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH said on Tuesday that he should be a member of the Tea Party, the activist movement pursuing big cuts in government spending.
One month into his turn as leader, Republicans in the House are pursuing $32 billion in cuts to the federal budget compared to 2008 levels, while in the Senate, Tea Party-backed Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY has called for much bigger $500 billion in cuts.
I should be, he said after being asked if he was, during an interview on Cincinnati, Ohio radio's 700 WLV. I don't know if I actually pay dues, but I'm a big believer in the Tea Party and I talk to Tea Party activists all over my district and all over the country every day.
The interview comes about a month after Boehner took on the Speaker's role. The federal government has just over $14 trillion in debt and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office expects the fiscal 2012 federal budget to have a deficit of $1.5 trillion.
Paul, who came into office with strong Tea Party support, has proposed a $500 billion cut in the next federal budget, below 2008 levels.
Ryan, who heads the House Budget Committee, has proposed a $32 billion cut below those levels, saying that is what is possible during the remainder of the current fiscal year and is in line with Republican leadership pledges.
Do you agree more with Rand Paul or with Paul Ryan? asked radio host Bill Cunningham.
Well I think there's a lot of spending that needs to be cut, Boehner said.
Congress did not pass a new budget in December of 2010 as Republicans rejected a Democratic proposal which they felt was too high. Congress only approved a temporary extension until March for spending in December.
This first step is funding the government from March 4 through September 30, Boehner said.
We committed in the Pledge to America that we'd cut $100 billion. If you look at what's left of the fiscal year, it'll be $100 billion on an annual basis, based on what the President proposed to spend last September, he said. He said he was hopeful the Senate would work to pass House proposals.
Ryan has previously said a Republican pledge to cut the budget by $100 billion was what would have been possible at the beginning of the fiscal year, which began last September.
We're bringing spending down to the levels we pledged all along if we had gotten to these levels before the fiscal year started we would have gotten some really good savings but because we're half way through the fiscal year, the savings aren't as large, he recently told CNBC.
But we're doing exactly what we said we would do. Bring domestic discretionary spending down to '08 levels for the rest of the fiscal year, he said.
Correction: An aritcle on February 9, 2011 mentioning Sen. Rand Paul's proposed cuts for government funding in the 2011 fiscal year inccorrectly stated he wanted $500 million in reductions over 2008 levels. He wants $500 billion in reductions.