Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) visited Fox News Sunday yesterday where he announced – twice – that President Obama is “eager” to go over the fiscal cliff because he thinks it would enable him to raise taxes and be an all-around political plus. It’s a rather outrageous accusation – yet nobody challenged him on it. Not host Chris Wallace, who otherwise did a decent job moderating the discussion, and not the Democratic guest, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).
Here’s the relevant portion of the discussion:
Barrasso: When I listen to the president, I think the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes. I think he sees a political victory at the bottom of the cliff. He gets all these additional tax revenue for new programs. He gets to cut the military, which Democrats have been calling for, for years, and he gets to blame Republicans for it...
There was not a word from Conrad. Wallace responded by saying:
Wallace: Well - all right. You heard the president’s plan and he basically said, "This is all I think we can get done in these next nine days, extend the Bush tax cuts, for everybody below $250,000, and, extend unemployment benefits."
As the number three Republican in the Senate, can you guarantee the Republicans will not filibuster the plan?
In short, no, Barrasso would not guarantee that. He said, “I just don’t think this is going to solve the problems—it actually doesn’t solve the problems. We have a spending problem in this country, Chris. We don’t have a taxing problem. The president is fixated on raising taxes.”
Wallace said, “I understand that… We got nine days. Are we going over the cliff here?”
Barrasso answered, "I believe we are and I believe the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes. He senses a victory at the bottom of the cliff. I think it hurts our country and hurts our economy."
Once again, nobody challenged him. We know why Wallace didn't. But what's Democratic Senator Conrad's excuse?
Barrasso was quoted as saying, “I believe in limited government, lower taxes, less spending, traditional family values, local control and a strong national defense,” and said he has “voted for prayer in schools, against gay marriage and [has] sponsored legislation to protect the “sanctity of life”.
Barrasso opposed President Barack Obama’s health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
In 2011, Barrasso introduced a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting carbon dioxide emissions.
The teabaggers are adamantly opposed to lower & middle class tax relief and to unemployment compensation unless they can get their way with tax relief for millionaires and more wasteful defense spending.
As tough as it will be, I hope that our President will stand his ground and not cave in to the teabaggers’ outrageous demands.
Barrasso was cleary in the mode of just saying anti-Obama talking points, and his attitude makes clear that Senate Republicans intend to filibuster anything that doesn’t give them what they want. Meaning that they don’t intend to compromise in any way.
Which mean it’s their intention to let the deadline pass and then try to blame any fallout on Obama. They also get an added bonus for this – in that they can punish people on Unemployment or needing other services that will be cut back. The trick here is that the tax rates will not make that much of a difference to wealthy tax payers, and the cuts to defense will not gut the military, regardless of the right wing complaints. But the cuts to social services and to people on the less fortunate end of society will hit a lot harder. People like Barrasso clearly think they can hang tough longer than the Dems.
If they actually play this card in this fashion, it indicates a different GOP strategy than people anticipated. People had thought the GOP had learned its lesson from 2012 and would be willing to finally come to the table and participate in government for a change. The thought was that they would temper their positions and finally compromise a little in order to do what the voters clearly wanted – get something done. But the approach the GOP seems to be taking is 180 degrees away from that idea. They seem to be hardening their positions, particularly after Boehner’s attempts to reason with his own party failed.
The writing on the wall seems to be that they intend to put in a new, harder-line Speaker – which would mean that Eric Cantor’s unfortunate behavior will be rewarded with a promotion. Their statements indicate that instead of governing, they intend to fold their arms more firmly than before. That would put them in a position of voting NO in lockstep and generating another record number of filibusters over the next four years. That would make EIGHT years of deliberate obstruction – all out of their animosity against this President and against anyone that doesn’t totally cave to them.
I really hope I’m wrong about this.