Dick Armey says the Tea Party movement is willing to back Republicans for office, but only if they agree to reform their sinful ways when it comes to fiscal dangers like the budget deficit and the federal debt.

In fact, he predicts that Tea Partiers and their conservative allies will be around for a long time to make sure Republicans who get into office avoid the perils of backsliding on the road to fiscal purity.

“If we’ve got any hope at all, we must put it, as unreliable as they are, with the Republicans and try to rehabilitate them, reform them … and manage their behavior,” the former House Republican majority leader told a National Press Club luncheon.

Armey is likely to know what he’s talking about. His nonprofit group, FreedomWorks, has been busy organizing, training and facilitating Tea Party rallies since the movement surfaced early last year.

Some suspect FreedomWorks of trying to co-opt Tea Partiers for Republicans. But Armey insists his only objective is to push a conservative agenda aimed at maximizing liberty and minimizing government control.