Can the New Congress Cut Federal Spending?

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The new Congress takes office this week and one of its top priorities is dealing with federal spending.

The American people have spoken clearly -- they want Washington, D.C., to cut spending and not raise taxes.

The new Republican Congress swept into power in November promising to get runaway spending and deficits under control. Now, they're about to tackle their first major challenge in accomplishing that goal.

The government's debt stands at an all-time high of over $14 trillion, and Congress needs to decide whether to raise the debt ceiling, giving the government an even higher credit limit.

It's a move that has been fiercely opposed by Tea Party activists and small-government conservatives, including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2012.

A new CBS News poll showed that Americans overwhelmingly prefer cutting spending to raising taxes as a way to reduce the deficit. Seventy-seven percent want cuts, 9 percent want taxes raised and another 9 percent want to do both.

Democrats want to see the debt ceiling raised. However, President Barack Obama criticized such a move in 2006 during his tenure as a senator of Illinois.

The debate over the issue on Capitol Hill promises to be fierce. The public -- especially the Tea Party -- will be watching to see how serious the new Congress really is about cutting spending.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

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Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.