Congressman John Boehner, the new Republican Speaker of America's House of Representatives, warned yesterday that the US faced "tough decisions" on mounting federal debt as the party sought to promote its small government legislation.
Mr Boehner said government spending "has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy".
"Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress," said Mr Boehner as he was sworn in as Speaker, the third most powerful position in the US government. "No longer can we kick the can down the road."
Mr Boehner was clear that his party would now share responsibility for the country's economic performance.
Shortly before he became the 53rd American to bear the Speaker's gavel, Robert Gibbs, press secretary to President Barack Obama, announced that he was stepping down, as a White House reshuffle gathered pace.
Mr Gibbs said he would work on Mr Obama's 2012 re-election bid as an outside consultant and act as a free-roaming speaker in support of the president and his policies.
The president has been forced to readjust after the huge swing to the Republicans which handed them control of the House and reduced the Democratic Party's majority in the senate. The results were seen as a referendum on his failure to reduce an unemployment rate of nearly 10pc.
For Mr Boehner (61), yesterday capped a remarkable rise from an upbringing in a poor family of 12 children in a small town outside Cincinnati, Ohio. (© Daily Telegraph, London)