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Tea Party Slams Boehner and Ryan on Debt Ceiling

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William Temple, chair of the National Tea Party Convention speaks at a Washington press conference Monday. (Fox News Photo / Wes Barrett)

Tea Party leaders ripped into House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as well as other House Republicans, saying any vote to raise the debt limit without major fiscal policy changes will amount to selling out the Tea Party, adding the group will work to unseat those who vote for an increase in the next election.

"We're telling Boehner and all of the House Republicans, they came into office with Tea Party help. We now expect them to keep their promises and hold the ceiling on the national debt," said William Temple, head of this fall's Tea Party National Convention. "The Tea Party will not be in a very forgiving mood this fall, nor as the GOP primary season opens, if House freshmen and others elected by the Tea Party cave to Obama. We will find replacements for them this fall."

He added the group could go along with a small increase in the debt ceiling, but only if Republicans were able to win a major policy battle such as a repeal of health care or the passage of a balanced budget amendment.

Temple appeared at a Washington press conference dressed in colonial garb and was especially critical of the 2011 budget compromise Boehner worked out with Republicans last month. The deal cut $37.8 billion in spending and narrowly avoided a government shutdown, but was short of the $100 billion in cuts Republicans originally sought.

Temple noted the emotion the house speaker famously wears on his sleeve and suggested Boehner and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., caved during the 11th hour negotiation.

"I wish our tearful House Speaker would just show some compassion for American taxpayers and our children, but he and Mr. Ryan have already surrendered to President Obama," Temple said. "It's a cowardly act of treason against coming generations, and we may be able to give Boehner something to really cry about in 2012."

Chair of the Congressional Tea Party caucus Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., echoed the idea that the 2011 vote was a missed opportunity, saying the debt ceiling vote offers a chance for a do-over.

"The debt ceiling vote will offer an opportunity that was squandered during the vote for the 2011 Continuing Resolution," she said in a statement.

In a Monday night speech to the Economic Club of New York, Boehner is expected to challenge Obama on the debt limit, warning that a hike in the ceiling without major spending cuts and reforms will actually hurt the economy and destroy more American jobs.

"To increase the debt limit without simultaneously addressing the drivers of our debt -- in defiance of the will of our people -- would be monumentally arrogant and massively irresponsible," Boehner says in prepared remarks released to Fox News. "It would send a signal to investors and entrepreneurs everywhere that America still is not serious about dealing with our spending addiction."

Economists who side with the Tea Party point to the idea that a no-vote on a debt increase should be easy for conservative Republicans, dismissing downsides of allowing the U.S. to hit the ceiling. CATO Institute Senior Fellow Dan Mitchell says the government will still be able to pay interest on the current federal debt even if there is no increase in the ceiling.

"The Treasury Secretary is being deceitful, the Fed chairman is being very misleading on the issue as well," he said. "Default is not the issue, the issue is whether we get government spending under control. The debt and deficit are the symptoms. The underlying problem of a government that is too big."

And it's that idea of downsizing government the Tea Party says its members will be looking for as the U.S. approaches its debt limit.

"We will be judging the House Republicans and their Democratic colleagues on one issue only: Did you vote for more debt? That's it," Temple said. "Red ink requires pink slips, federal layoffs and downsizing for D.C.'s ruling class just like the rest of us out there."

Boehner is expected during his Monday evening speech to reaffirm that Republicans have to show they are serious about the debt problem and will say again there won't be a debt limit increase without significant cuts and reforms.

Fox Business Networks' Rich Edson contributed to this report.