WASHINGTON – Members of the tea party in Congress are blasting “out of control” government spending that has included such significant expenditures as $5,000 stipends for people to think about what food would be good to eat on Mars while sunbathing on a Hawaiian beach.

“Everything is out of control,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said today at the Capitol Hill Club, where he was joined by several others, including Reps. John Fleming, R-La.; Louis Gohmert, R-Texas; Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.; and Paul Broun, R-Ga.

The lawmakers stood in front of more than 160,000 petitions from across the United States pledging their resistance to any plans for tax hikes.

Paul said not only is the amount of spending a problem, the frivolity of the Obama checkbook items are stunning.

He cited the study that granted a week vacation in Hawaii for people who were told to think about Mars and food.

Broun greatly cautioned that if the economic issues are not resolved soon, “we’re headed to a total economic collapse.”

That’s the real “fiscal cliff,” he said.

“I believe we’re heading towards a depression worse than the 30s.”

While deficit spending surged dramatically under President George W. Bush and his medical benefits for seniors and two overseas wars, when Barack Obama moved into the White House in 2009, he made Bush seem like a miser.

Join in the “No More Red Ink” campaign.

Under Obama, the deficit has ballooned from $10 trillion to $16 trillion-plus in just one term, with annual deficits of $1 trillion-plus for every year he’s been in office.

Broun stood firmly on tea party principles when he declared: “I believe that we should not raise taxes on anybody for any reason. Government has too much money. … I believe in constitutionally limited government as our Founding Fathers meant it.”

Broun also echoed the tea party emphasis on state sovereignty when he said, “We need to send powers back to the states and to the people as the Tenth Amendment says it should be.”

Many in the current White House administration claim the tea party and the Republican Party simply want to benefit their friends.

Gohmert said: “That is not what we’re about. We’re about trying to protect the principles on which this country was founded. We’re not trying to protect the rich, we’re trying to get back to a system where anybody in American can get rich by hard work, saving money and entrepreneurism.”

Gohmert also took a swing at the Democrats, saying, “The majority right now want to punish people who are working harder. … This is a time not to punish, but to get America back.”

He said that despite all of the leftist rhetoric about having a fair system, Obama has not proposed legislation that “would equalize the tax rate.”

Paul said: “The Republican Party is the party of limited government and low taxation. I don’t think it is time to change who we are or what we stand for.”

Fleming said if Republicans vote to raise tax rates, it would be the first time since 1913 that it’s been done by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Rep. Huelskamp, R-Kan., blasted his own party’s establishment, which punished him by removing him from the House Agriculture Committee in a recent series of strategy moves apparently intended to quiet dissident voices.

“I did something that we do normally in Kansas and that is keep our word,” he said.

Huelskamp went on to pledge again that he would not raise taxes on anybody, noting that when he signed a pledge not to raise taxes, “I meant it.”

He said that he “made a pledge to 700,000 Kansans that I believe the government is taking too much of your money.”

“So let’s keep our pledge,” he said.

Huelskamp said Obama “wants Republicans to violate their principles and to admit that the failed economic policies are the result of bad tax policies.”

“We can’t go down that road, we can’t go down the road of violating our principles,” he said.

To abandon Republican ideas, he said, would turn Washington over to Democrats.

The members of Congress were asked about Rep. John Boehner’s House leadership and his future.

Gohmert said, “We’ll see where we are in January.”

Broun said simply cutting back a few dollars here and there isn’t enough.

“I want to get rid of whole sale parts of the federal government. … I want to get rid of the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and let’s get rid of the EPA while we’re doing it. … Let’s go back to constitutionally limited government as our Founding Fathers meant it.”

Fleming has introduced H.R. 826 to not raise the debt ceiling, which would put the brakes on future spending.

Just days ago, more than 100 conservative leaders from across the nation sent a letter to GOP members in Congress encouraging them to “negotiate from a position of strength” with Democrats regarding the trillions of dollars in tax increases Obama is demanding.

“It’s in the interest of the country and in your personal interest for you to use the power you unquestionably have now to stand firm and not surrender your conservative principles, no matter how loud the clamor of people whose central interests is to advance the left’s agenda,” says the letter.

The letter was signed by Morton Blackwell, chairman of the Weyrich Lunch, Colin Hann of Let Freedom Ring, Ed Meese of the Conservative Action Project, Jim Martin of the 60 Plus Association and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, among others.

A separate “No More Red Ink” campaign explains what authority the GOP currently holds as the majority party of the U.S. House, where all national spending bills must originate.

The GOP can decline to authorize an increase in the national debt limit and force billions of dollars in spending cuts, because programs would not legally have money available to run.

Joseph Farah, CEO of WND and originator of the campaign, noted that House Republicans can take such action unilaterally. They wouldn’t need a single Democrat vote, he said.

“It will take only 218 House Republican votes to stop the borrowing next year. And I’m pretty certain Republicans will maintain control of the House and possibly gain control of the Senate next year. That’s why I’m optimistic about the success of this powerful, nation-changing plan,” he wrote.

“Just think what it will mean if, following this campaign of relentless, grass-roots lobbying, Republicans actually live up to their rhetoric about the Constitution and limited government and balanced budgets next year. We can have a balanced budget overnight!”

He also said “unconstitutional and destructive bureaucracies” could be eliminated, such as the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency, Planned Parenthood funding and obscene artwork sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The letter from conservative leaders isn’t as specific but addresses GOP members of both the House and Senate, warning that they will be tested.

“In the House, the nation elected in 2012 one of the largest Republican majorities in the past 100 years. You have a mandate to fight for conservative principles that is arguably much broader than the one that narrowly reelected President Barack Obama claims to have for his leftist agenda,” the letter continues.

“Of course, House Republicans alone cannot pass a law, but united you can stop any bill which violates the principles you publicly committed to support. In the Senate you have more than enough Republicans to prevent the passage of anything truly harmful to our country.”

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