Thursday 27 April 2017

Tea Party warns of government 'shutdown'

Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell smiles after casting her ballot in, Delaware however she has failed in her Senate bid
Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell smiles after casting her ballot in, Delaware however she has failed in her Senate bid

Toby Harnden in Washington

The anti-tax, small-government Tea Party, tipped to be a big winner in yesterday's elections, has raised the prospect of a US government shutdown if the axe does not fall on federal spending.

"We expect Congress to stop spending," said Mark Meckler, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots group. "We don't want to see any tax raises, we want to see cuts. We don't expect to see the budget ceiling raised and that means these guys are going to have to get serious and make some hard decisions right away."

He said that the Tea Party's status as a major force in American politics would be confirmed by the election results. "We're seeing the wave build. I think the peak is happening at exactly the right time for candidates who believe in our values."

A spending showdown could come as early as January when the new Congress convenes. If pre-election polls are correct, Republicans will be in the majority in the House of Representatives, which will have to consider a US Treasury request to raise the national debt limit.

Republican leaders say they will expect major concessions from President Barack Obama on deficit reduction if they are to accept an increase.

Some candidates aligned with the Tea Party have suggested a government shutdown, as occurred in 1995, could be in the offing. Mr Meckler said the message would be clear. "The American voters realise that two years ago they made a mistake and today they're going to start to rectify that mistake."

The results would be a rebuke for Mr Obama but also an "opportunity" for him. "If he adopts our core principles of fiscal responsibility and limiting government according to the constitution and supporting free-market capitalism, then I think he'll have no problem working with Tea Partiers," Mr Meckler said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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