The third highest-ranking Republican Senator, John Barrasso, appeared on Fox News yesterday to discuss the ‘fiscal cliff’ with host Chris Wallace, and in doing so raised eyebrows on several fronts.
Wallace began the interview by outlining the current plan on the table from the President: extend Bush tax cuts for everyone making below $250K/year now, along with extending unemployment benefits, and deal with spending and tax cuts after said fiscal cliff is avoided. [Quoted material from video:]
“As the number-three Republican in the Senate,” said Wallace, “Can you guarantee that the Republicans won’t filibuster that plan?
“I can’t even guarantee that the Democrats will vote for it,” replied Barrasso glibly.
(Note to Barrasso: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid guarantees it.)
Notice how, in true political fashion, Barrasso doesn’t answer the question. Wallace noticed, and persisted:
“And what about Republicans? Would you filibuster it?”
“That’s a different issue,” said Barrasso evasively. “I just don’t think this is going to solve the problems – it actually doesn’t solve the problem … The President is fixated on raising taxes.”
Chris again persisted, “Are we going over the cliff?”
“I believe we are,” replied Barrasso. “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.”
It’s a strange picture to paint of the President. Kind of a green, furry creature wearing a tattered Santa suit, standing victorious atop the ruins of the country after its fall from the cliff, gleefully rubbing his hands together over all the taxes the government gets to leech from the people as he makes his calculated campaign plans for his next political run.
Except there won’t be another political run for Barack Obama. Perhaps his “political purposes” are being benevolently extended to all his Democrat buddies.
Wallace then asked the most oft-asked fiscal cliff question that no Republican has been able to effectively answer:
“Why not extend the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of people instead of raising them for everybody?”
“I don’t want us to go over the cliff,” Barrasso replied (which of course was no answer). “I want to find a solution. The extension and making permanent the Bush tax cuts for everyone I think would be a good idea. They have that bill that came over from the house. The Senate can bring – Harry Reid can bring it up. Amendments can be offered, so I think there is still time. We’re coming back here on the 27th. But realistically, what the President has just proposed, is raising taxes now, perhaps dealing with spending later. We need to grow the economy, we need entitlement reform – the President seems to be ignoring those things.”
The GOP blocking progress in Congress and blaming the President is nothing new. And neither is the weakness of their arguments – they’re finding it harder to harder to explain why the wealthy shouldn’t pay more in taxes even though their share of income grew approximately five times faster than their share of taxes over the past couple decades, according to the Tax Foundation. But the majority of polled Americans insist it’s the Republicans who will carry the bulk of blame should that fateful GOP push off the cliff occur. And no matter how ardently they attempt to shift that blame to the President – that it’s what he wanted all along – Americans will know that tax hikes on everyone making below $250K/year will be solely because Republicans were willing to sacrifice the 98% for the wealthy 2% — either all of us, or none of us, will go over the cliff together.
And that’s pretty extreme.
See full interview in video: