WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told WND Republicans in Washington “need to stand by our principles” while Barack Obama and “the left” have the bully pulpit on financial plans for the country.

“In the long term we have to really understand that panicking and genuflecting to political events of the moment is actually a bad idea,” he said. “We need to stand by our principles. If we fail to do that, we will lose our base.”

He said the evidence that standing on principle is a good idea was shown in the most recent election. Of the 22 Republicans who voted in 2011 to oppose House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling increase, 18 won reelection. Two others retired.

He said a solid adherence to the longstanding principles of smaller government, lower taxes and self-reliance will be important.

“Republicans who cave to this [tax increases]…will see primary challenges in the 2014 elections. … They will find a lot of opposition in their districts in the next couple of years,” he said.

“Most Republicans that lost their seats in the House and Senate were the moderates who had a history of big spending and voting for bailouts. In 2010 and 2012, the more conservative tea party Republicans were winning elections, he said.

“The principles of the tea party are very strong,” he said, adding he “does not see the Republican Party abandoning the principles of the tea party.”

Join in the “No More Red Ink” campaign.

His comments are timely considering the apparent new leader of the tea party in Congress, Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky, is to hold a press conference tomorrow at the Capitol Hill Club at 3 p.m. to bring to Congress more than 160,000 new petitions demanding “No New Taxes.”

Joining him will be Rep. Paul Broun R-Ga., to denounce the GOP leadership for “caving in” on tax increases.

Fleming said the divisions in the GOP are political and not ideological.

“I think there is a split in a political direction, not an ideological direction. All Republicans agree that the focus needs to be on cutting spending and entitlement reform. The split exists on how to deal with President Obama,” he said.

“My colleagues are thinking in terms of how to deal with it [fiscal cliff negotiations and taxes] in a manner where we don’t look bad and Obama looks bad….The problem is no matter what happens that is bad, Republicans get the blame and whatever victories happen, Obama gets the win in the short term.”

Fleming said there is an inherent misunderstanding on the part of Americans about Republicans.

“The American people do not want anything to fundamentally affect their checks and benefits. … We are going to go further down the road to economic calamity…We really need to hit the skids in our economy, to where the American people will push Washington to make the needed changes,” he said.

“[The Democrats, including Obama] think they have a clear mandate to pursue very leftist goals, aspirations and policies, which are to increase taxes on the wealthy and ultimately to increase taxes on the middle class,” he warned.

He referenced Democrat Howard Dean’s recent statement in an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell in which the former Vermont governor said: “The truth is, everybody needs to pay more taxes, not just the rich. That’s a good start, but we’re not gonna get out of this deficit problem unless we raise taxes across the board.”

Fleming said “the president is not going to give in on entitlements” and from his perspective there is nothing that can be done to not look bad in the eyes of the establishment media, which often has led cheers for Obama’s efforts.

Fleming, therefore, advises that the Republicans should make Obama “own this economy,” contending history will judge Obama as the economy further declines under his administration.

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.”

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.