Washington (CNN) — Right now, some Republican lawmakers in Washington may be wondering how to wiggle out from between a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, they’re staring at a possible financial nightmare if the nation’s debt limit isn’t raised. On the other, many are feeling the heat from tea party demands that bluntly warn: Vote against us and suffer political consequences.
To be sure, Democrats are also under pressure from progressive constituencies who are pushing for more revenue in the form of tax increases — and for them to stand firm against cuts to entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But over its 2½-year existence, the tea party movement has placed its banner of less government spending at the center of the national conversation. So many activists are watching who’s voting on what, even their conservative supporters in Congress — and especially putting the squeeze on moderate Republicans.
What they’re saying around the country is, “Do not raise the debt ceiling. It’s that simple. It’s time for Congress to get its fiscal house in order,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told CNN. The group is the nation’s largest tea party organization.
Martin explained that her group’s supporters want a balanced-budget amendment, significant spending cuts and lower taxes. And they don’t want the debt limit raised.
This week, Tea Party Patriots’ members and supporters are intensely calling various lawmakers: establishment Republicans, so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats and those freshmen Republicans elected to the House with tea party support.
“I think that it’s accurate to call it pressure,” Martin said. “The other thing is, we’re holding these … freshmen accountable. A lot of these freshmen ran on the promise that they were not going to increase the debt ceiling. Now, they’re in D.C. with all of their colleagues on the Hill. And they’re buying into the company line, forgetting about the fact that the American people have elected them not to do that.”
For those who vote to raise the debt limit, “The American people are going to watch what they did, watch what happens to the economy and next November, I think there will be consequences,” Martin said.