Health Care ‘Only Part’ of the Government’s Spending Problem, Says Sen. Mike Lee

By Fred Lucas | February 13, 2013 | 7:54 AM EST

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) says the federal government's spending problem goes beyond health care costs, which the White House has called the primary cost driver.

“I certainly think that any institution that spends a trillion more every year than it takes in has a spending problem. I think that’s pretty well established,” Lee told after President Obama's State of the Union Address. “Health care is part of it, but it is only part of it. There are lots of other things at issue as well. We are spending a $1 trillion every single year in excess of what we’re bringing in.”

House Democratic leaders deny that a spending problem exists.

On Fox News Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “It is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem.”

"On CNBC Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was asked if the country had a spending problem. “Does the country have a – the country has a paying-for problem,” Hoyer replied. “We haven’t paid for what we’ve bought.”

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in response to a question, said: "Of course the president believes that we have a spending problem that is specifically driven by – and I think any economist worth any insight worth the paper on which his or her PhD is printed would tell you the principle driver when it comes to spending of our deficit or debt is health care spending.”

During Obama’s first term, the national debt increased by nearly $6 trillion. Deficit spending surpassed $1 trillion each year of his presidency.

Last week, Carney did not deny a Jan. 6 Wall Street Journal report about a conversation between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Boehner quoted Obama as telling him, "We don’t have a spending problem.” The article says Obama told Boehner the problem is limited to health care spending.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said it’s “rather obvious” the government is facing a spending problem.

“Any time you have a deficit that nears $1 trillion and has been over $1 trillion for the past four years, you’ve got a spending problem. So I think that’s rather self-evident,” Flake told