Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Sunday that the country's debt ceiling should not be raised, despite warnings from government officials and others that not raising the limit will result in default and an economic disaster.

If Congress does raise the debt ceiling, Pawlenty said on ABC's “This Week,” it should come with something like a balanced budget amendment or real spending caps.

“If the Congress moves in that direction at present, they better get something really good for it — it better be permanent, and it better be structural,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty's interview with Christiane Amanpour capped off the first week of his presidential campaign, which included stops in Iowa, Florida, Washington, New York and New Hampshire.

Pawlenty stood firm on his position that President Obama was offering a “false choice” between debt and default, as he said the country could pay outside creditors first to create cash flow “for quite some time.”

But Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the U.S., which hit the $14.3 trillion debt limit May 16, will default on its debt if the limit is not raised before Aug. 2.

“There's some serious voices challenging that very premise,” Pawlenty said Sunday. “And the answer is nobody really knows because we have not been at this point before.”

Pawlenty also repeated his position, hashed out earlier this week, that he would sign Rep. Paul Ryan's budget even though his plan will offer differences on Medicare.

Assessing his chances in the campaign, Pawlenty said his limited national profile isn't a drawback because the field has no solid front-runner yet.

“I like the fact that most of the other candidates are really well known and yet they don't really have a strong front-running position,” Pawlenty said. "And that gives us time and space to be able to advance our campaign."

Indeed, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Washington Post columnist George Will said later on the program Sunday that Pawlenty is the Republican to beat.

Will warned, however, that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — who is launching an East Coast bus tour today — could be devastating for Pawlenty if she actually jumps into the race, because she would split the evangelical vote that he's courting.

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Dear MN Contractors: We may not have any money after July 1. Sincerely, The State of Minnesota