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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's new senator is in the spotlight over the national debt ceiling debate. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is threatening to filibuster over efforts to raise the ceiling.
Government debt has surged to an all-time high, topping $14 trillion -- $45,300 for each and everyone in the country. That means Congress soon will have to lift the legal debt limit to give the nearly maxed-out government an even higher credit limit or dramatically cut spending to stay within the current cap.
Lee basically says he'll do whatever it takes to push through a Balanced Budget Amendment. That includes a filibuster to stop an increase in the debt ceiling.
Lee joined CNN's "Parker Spitzer" Wednesday night and was asked if anything could be done right now to make raising the debt ceiling more appealing.
"Nothing, nothing," he said. "We have to have a balanced budget amendment. And I do intend to use the filibuster and I will filibuster any effort to raise the national debt ceiling."
Lee contends people who like social security and national defense should support a balanced budget. He says by the end of the decade the country will be paying $1 trillion a year in interest on the national debt and that's more than what's being spent on any of those programs right now.
He proposes a return to the base budget used in 2004.
"I am saying that we have to look at, potentially, cuts of 40 percent in every single program," he said.
In some off-set questions posted on the Parker Spitzer blog, Lee said he feels the debt ceiling issue is being "wrongly framed as an all-or-nothing choice." He says there was the same kind of bi-partisan "fear-mongering" over TARP, which he didn't think was needed.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a completely different message about the debt ceiling. He predicts catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades if Congress doesn't raise the ceiling.