Raleigh, N.C. — Congresswoman Renee Ellmers said Tuesday that she and her Republican colleagues plan to continue slashing federal spending to return the U.S. economy to firmer footing.
Financial markets have gyrated in recent weeks first as lawmakers battled over raising the U.S. debt limit and then as the nation lost its AAA credit rating for the first time.
In an interview with WRAL News, Ellmers said Congress had hoped that the debt-ceiling bill would prevent a credit downgrade. Now that it has happened, she said, the nation needs to focus on stabilizing the economy to avoid sliding back into a recession.
"The debt ceiling increase was part of the heartburn of that bill," she said, noting that she voted for the legislation because it included $1 trillion in spending cuts and created a path for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
"The piece of legislation that we passed not being a perfect bill, not being the be-all, end-all, we're just looking to have the opportunity to continue cutting spending," she said.
Ellmers said the debt bill was "never the end game but more of a start" to the process of reining in federal spending. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress need to recognize that the economy will improve only if the nation can get a handle on its deficit, she said.
"The debt ceiling increase was not about future spending, What it was (about) was ensuring our ability to pay for the spending that has already taken place," she said. "Our credit card bill is now due."
The competing philosophies between the Republicans and Democrats in Congress don't leave "much wiggle room" for compromise, she said, which is why the 2012 election will be key for setting the national agenda moving forward.
"I really do believe that ultimately the 2012 election is going to be the deciding factor for the direction our country goes in," Ellmers said.