Interview with Tea Party Co-Founder Mark Meckler

Mark Meckler, 49, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots in the United States, talks to SPIEGEL about the US debt ceiling, the radical right's uncompromising fight against the national debt and the "complete economic disaster" he claims President Barack Obama has created.

SPIEGEL: The world is looking at Washington and sees gridlock and chaos. How much have the negotiations over the United States' debt ceiling hurt America's standing in the world?

Meckler: Saying that these debates have hurt our image is absurd. What you currently see in Washington is one of the most responsible debates ever about the size and scope of government. The world should look at what is going on in the United States as a model for what should happen in all countries.

SPIEGEL: We look at it and see a Congress held hostage by a small group of radical Tea Party members unwilling to agree to any budget compromise and risking a US default.

Meckler: What do you mean by "a small group?" Forty-one percent of voters in the last US election said they agreed with Tea Party values. And the primary values of the Tea Party are about fiscal responsibility.

SPIEGEL: But you are willing to accept a US default if your demands for massive budget cuts and no tax increases are not met. That seems rather irresponsible or even unpatriotic. Most leading economists forecast financial "Armageddon" in that case.

Meckler: Default is a false threat. We take in over $220 billion in revenues every month and our debt service is only roughly $20 billion. The only way we will default is if the President of the United States makes the irresponsible choice not to pay our debts. We Tea Party Patriots put principles first, and we have to understand what America is about. Our country was founded on an idea: liberty. But it requires fiscal responsibility for people to be free. We are becoming slaves to our own government. Every US family now owes $400,000 to $500,000 in national debt. We Tea Party Patriots fight for the future of the nation, and there can be nothing more patriotic than that.,00.html