Chambliss: Government shutdown is up to Obama

If you think the 112th Congress was a weak, unproductive bunch, you’re not alone. Saxby Chambliss agrees with you.

“Unfortunately that’s the way it feels inside, not just outside,” Georgia’s senior senator told me over coffee at his Cobb County office Tuesday. “Harry Reid’s leadership [in the Senate] leaves a lot to be desired, and the in-your-face stuff that the president’s thrown at us has gotten a lot of backs up on our side, in both the House and the Senate. You throw the presidential election in there and it just kind of all came together, and nothing got done.”

Readers who are not GOP partisans would probably add House Republicans to Chambliss’ list of Washington’s bad actors. But after spending the past few years working with a handful of his fellow senators to fashion a big, bipartisan deal to reform the federal tax code and reduce spending, to no avail, Chambliss conveyed disdain for the way the Jan. 1 agreement to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff came about. And he blamed President Barack Obama.

“He was pretty open about the fact that, ‘Look, if we go off the cliff, if you guys don’t give me what I want, if we go off the cliff, I’m going to get what I want. And then I will spend the first three weeks of January beating the heck out of Republicans, and then I’ll present my plan of [tax cuts for those earning] $250,000 or less and dare you guys to vote against it.’ That’s just not the way that you get major things accomplished.”

What Obama did accomplish — higher taxes on some high earners — bought little time before the next showdown. By March, Congress and the president will face a trio of expirations: the debt ceiling, the delay in automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, and the temporary funding Congress has enacted in lieu of a budget for almost three years now.

“Some people might argue that the debt ceiling is the least pressure point [of the three] because you’ve got to pay your bills,” Chambliss said, “and that’s what [Obama] keeps saying, that ‘I … dare you to not allow us to pay the bills that you’ve incurred.’

“Well the fact is, the Democratic Congress incurred the bills. This administration incurred the bills. The Republicans have been in charge of the House for two years; this money was basically spent in the two years before that when you look at the stimulus package and the other spending that he put in place to create the massive deficits. So for him to come out and say, ‘You guys are obligated to pay your bills’ — I didn’t vote for any of that stuff.”

Because the debt ceiling isn’t really about whether to default on the national debt — the Treasury takes in far more revenue than it needs to make debt payments — the more likely short-term alternative to raising the debt ceiling is a federal government shutdown. (Which is not to suggest there would be no consequences, or only mild ones, for taking that route.)

Chambliss said he hopes it doesn’t come to that, but once again he put the onus on the president. In the past, he noted, Obama has embraced both the need to reform entitlements and a ratio of $3 of spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases.

“If [Obama's] serious about that, then … the likelihood of a shutdown would certainly be minimized. If he gets his back up and says, ‘We’ll only do this if we get more revenue,’ then I’d say the chances of a shutdown are pretty good. … If he wants to get serious, show the world marketplace that we are going to lead in this area, he’ll have that opportunity. If he doesn’t, then something dramatic has got to happen, and a shutdown could be it.”

Chambliss is up for re-election next year, and it’s no secret tea partyers and Democrats alike are eyeing his seat for a possible challenge. “I’ve never backed off from a fight,” he said. Fine, but does the bitterness in Washington ever make him think twice about running again?

“This is an eight-year decision for me. It’s two years [campaigning] plus six years” in office, he said. “And if I thought the next eight years were going to be filled with contentious debates and the wrong way to govern that we have just gone through in the last two months, it would have a significant impact on my decision. But yeah, right now my plans are to run.”

– By Kyle Wingfield

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236 comments Add your comment

Attack Dog

January 10th, 2013
5:56 am

First Clarence says that the “112th Congress was a weak, unproductive bunch,” then says the “government shutdown is up to Obama? This is the same guy who gave Bush a blank check (never said no to any spending bill), won’t identify the cuts in spending that he appropriated that has built up our annual deficit to more than a trillion dollars, and has been an obstructionist for the past eight years

Attack Dog

January 10th, 2013
6:04 am

Question for Clarence. If you supported a President increased our debt to $10 trillion, and you approved every spending bill that took the country from a budget surplus to having an annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion dollars, what would your accumulated debt be in four years? Government shutdown is up to Obama? No Clarence, it’s arithmetic and you have not told us of any spending cuts that would significantly reduce the annual deficit.

Buzz Aldrin

January 10th, 2013
6:11 am

Kind of like when the Democratic Congress incurred debt filled budgets because George W Bush dared them to vote against Freedom and Democracy? The money spent on the war sure would be nice to have now.

Aynie Sue

January 10th, 2013
6:24 am

What a lot of bull!

The Bush Republican administration and Congress reversed the Clinton legacy of burgeoning federal budget surpluses and ended the period of the greatest well-being and prosperity Americans will ever know. First, they reduced revenue by cutting the taxes of high-earners. Then, they started two wars: the most costly one was unnecessary and counter-strategic, the other one the longest running war in American history. Finally, they abetted the financial manipulators in New York and London in crashing our economy.

When the new administration took office in the midst of a financial crisis that threatened Americans with another economic depression, Chambliss and his Republican henchmen obstructed economic recovery, paralyzed the Congress, and held the economic system hostage to their demands for “spending cuts” that they lack the political courage to specify .

The American people have shown in elections and polls that they will not tolerate drastic cuts in Medicare and Social Security to give the ultra-rich more tax relief and to fund more spending on useless cold war weapons programs. The American people overwhelmingly favor increasing federal revenue by reinstating Clinton-era tax rates on high-earners. And many Americans are smart enough to know that significant federal spending cuts while we are struggling to recover from Republican economics would cause drastic job cuts that would plunge the economy back into recession.

Chambliss and his Republican henchmen in Congress are a bunch of hack politicians financed by Wall Street financial manipulators and voted into office by southern rednecks. They have no loyalty to the United States of America, nor any regard for the well-being of Americans.

A Simple Man

January 10th, 2013
6:31 am

Time for some new blood.

DeborahinAthens

January 10th, 2013
6:36 am

“The Democratic Congress incurred the debt…” Really, Saxby? Are you joking? You do realize that over 20% of the debt we MUST pay is attributable to the two wars, which you certainly did vote for. What an idiot. No wonder we are in such a mess when we have legislators that deny they are the problem. I had a flash of hope that Chambliss might be able to help lead us out of this mess by being reasonable. But once he compromises to try to get our country back on track, the threats by Tea Partiers to “primary” him make him turn yellow and lose his backbone. We raise the debt ceiling (which is a stupid, arbitrary thing that was raise 16 times by Dubya the Dumb) to be able to pay our past debts. When our “leaders” refuse to raise the ceiling, they are telling our debtors that we are low life scum, who choose not to pay our bills. These bills, contrary to Saxby’s attempt to spin it, were incurred by Rebublicans as well as Democrats.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 10th, 2013
7:11 am

“If [Obama's] serious about that, then … the likelihood of a shutdown would certainly be minimized. If he gets his back up and says, ‘We’ll only do this if we get more revenue,’ then I’d say the chances of a shutdown are pretty good. …

Well, get ready for the shutdown then. Not only will obozo want more taxes, he’ll probably want more spending too.

Numbers-R-US

January 10th, 2013
7:24 am

HAHAHA! Sounds like Saxby did a good job of selling himself to Kyle as the poor pitiful ultra conservative right winger from Georgia who just can’t make any headway because of that mean old uppity Obama. Guess what, Kyle. Obama did not win as a result of unskewed polls. The majority of the voters have caught on to the Republican party and it’s desire to continue to feed at the trough of the Koch boys and Sheldon Adelson, et al, at the expense of the 99.9 percent. HAHAHA! Perhaps two billion will be enough campaign financing to get one of your boys in the White House in four more years. Probably not.

Bob

January 10th, 2013
7:25 am

Obama got his tax increase but will not go for spending decreases, repubs will most likely fold instead of fighting.

Scrivener

January 10th, 2013
7:28 am

Obama, Reid and a bunch of democrats, plus the media, of course, want the uninformed public to believe it’s all the republicans’ fault. Although the republicans are guilty of spending too much, too, it’s the dems who are the party of big spending. The Tea Party gets nothing but bad press, but they are the ones who want to curb spending and reduce taxes. Go figure.

Bill

January 10th, 2013
7:34 am

No surprises here – not my fault – his fault!! Looks like we will have more of the same “fun” and the ones that will be the big losers will be the American public.

What a shame!!

sailfish

January 10th, 2013
7:45 am

““Well the fact is, the Democratic Congress incurred the bills. This administration incurred the bills. The Republicans have been in charge of the House for two years; this money was basically spent in the two years before that when you look at the stimulus package and the other spending that he put in place to create the massive deficits. So for him to come out and say, ‘You guys are obligated to pay your bills’ — I didn’t vote for any of that stuff.”

I’m calling out saxby for his utter bs…how’s about 2 undunded wars, medicare part d, and nonsensical, irresponsible tax cuts that squarely put us in this mess? Really sick of republican amnesia, that’s why we are in such dire straits – one sided responsiblities, it’s absurd!

Skip

January 10th, 2013
7:54 am

“I’ve never backed off from a fight” Remind me, what branch did you serve with during Viet Nam?

curious

January 10th, 2013
7:59 am

Sen Chambliss may believe that, but the majority of Americans won’t.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

January 10th, 2013
8:05 am

Well the fact is, the Democratic Congress incurred the bills

That’s Republican Math to make him feel better.

What a weak politician. Blame everyone but himself. Where was he during Bush’s big spending years? Did he vote for waging war in Iraq without paying for it? Did he vote for Medicare Part D without a way to pay for it?

Cherokee

January 10th, 2013
8:06 am

Cry me a river Senator.

The Congress voted to spend the money, not just the Democrats.

Man up and pay your bills like the rest of us have to.

Georgia , The "New Mississippi"

January 10th, 2013
8:11 am

Chambliss is completely useless……. The only thing he is good at is collecting paychecks and getting re-elected. He is the epitome of a Georgia politician.

SBinF

January 10th, 2013
8:31 am

LOL. Chambliss is delusional.

Let’s see who shoulders the blame should such a thing happen. Who shouldered the blame the last time such a thing happened?

Exactly.

Reality

January 10th, 2013
8:33 am

If Chambliss really said this headline, then he is part of the problem.

The ‘government shutdown’ can only be caused by Congress not increasing the debt ceiling. This means that the Congress decided not in pay bills already incurred. President Obama has nothing to do with this.

If the idiot con repub or ANYONE wants to decrease spending…. you do this through the BUDGET. If this Congress voted ‘yes’ on the budget, how can they vote ‘no’ when it comes time to pay the bills?

The analogy would be you using your VISA card to purchase food, but when the bill comes in the mail, you say ‘nope’, not gonna pay it. The idiot con repub wants the public to think that by saying ‘no’ this will somehow make the food magically return to the store?

However, there is a large percentage of idiot public that will listen to the idiot con repub….

indigo

January 10th, 2013
8:35 am

“I’d say the the chances of a shutdown are pretty good”

It looks like the Republicans are going to do everything possible to force a shutdown.

Then, they will do everything possible to persuade the public it’s all Obama’s fault.

They are still so angry at American voters for not electing Romney that punishing the Country with a shutdown actually seems like a good idea.

Fenton Hardy

January 10th, 2013
8:53 am

Sorry Saxby – This is a bi-partisan mess and requires a bi-partisan solution. Was willing to give you credit for your work with the Gang of Six, but, this is just pandering and not helpful.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

January 10th, 2013
8:57 am

I hope you washed your hands after leaving his office.

ewwww

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

January 10th, 2013
9:02 am

the stimulus package and the other spending that he put in place to create the massive deficits.

sorry, but neither O nor the Democrats “created” the massive deficits. They extended them for sure but they didn’t create them.

Banderson

January 10th, 2013
9:02 am

Mint the coin.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

January 10th, 2013
9:04 am

Well the fact is, the Democratic Congress incurred the bills. This administration incurred the bills

Cons = Unable to take responsibility. The two wars were started under Republican rule so did the Dems decide to stop funding them and pull all the troops out immediately? No. They continued to work with what they were given.

td

January 10th, 2013
9:04 am

It is hard to balance the budget when the President does not think we have a spending problem.

Lynnie Gal

January 10th, 2013
9:09 am

Obama said he will not compromise on paying the nation’s debts. He said he will not capitulate to hostage takers in the House again and has vowed to break them of this habit. I think he’s going to mint the coin and stop the children from fighting. That’s what adults have to do sometimes with children who keep fighting. Take away their toy and nobody gets to play. As far as Saxby, he’s a target now of his own party, but I doubt the TP is powerful enough to take him down. The TP’s power is fading and people are starting to understand the danger they pose to our economic health. Saxby will ultimately win this fight.

BW

January 10th, 2013
9:10 am

LOL….he certainly sound like he’s running for re-election too. The Republican party apparently has no part in the fiscal mess facing this country…facepalm

Out by the Pond

January 10th, 2013
9:19 am

What, what…..in your face republicans get upset when someone gets back up in their face? This country has some major issues and all the American people get are sophomoric idiots.

Cutty

January 10th, 2013
9:24 am

Did Chambliss pay for the wars? Farm bills? What about those budget-busting tax cuts or the Prescription Drug bill? To lay blame for policies that he didn’t vote as the problem is asinine. And that’s the problem w Republicans. They ignore their big spending ways of years past, and act as if the nation’s debt was $0 the day Obama was inaugurated.

The first step to recovery, and regaining the trust of Americans on the fence about both parties is to admit your mistakes. Chambliss didn’t in this article, and Kyle had the opportunity to bring it up and didn’t. He should have mentioned that he did vote for all the deficit spending mentioned above, and I don’t believe the wars are entirely paid for.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 10th, 2013
9:27 am

Taxme and Johnny are so wishy washy it is difficult to put much faith in their words. What they say for the home folks, has little resemblance to their voting records. Hard to comment on what they say because it means absolutely nothing.

UIC

January 10th, 2013
9:31 am

‘You guys are obligated to pay your bills’ — I didn’t vote for any of that stuff.” I guess Saxby thinks that when a bill is passed, the cost for it there will never be an additional expense associated with that vote. I won’t look it up, but I’d guess Saxby voted for both the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war when he was in the House. Earth to Saxby, those two votes will cost this country for the next couple of generations. Those votes, coupled withe the repeal of Glass Steagall has set this country on a path that will cost generations of people who were not eligible to vote in 2000 and 2004 a tremendous amount of money. Saxby, take Economics 101 before you make comments about the debt and deficit.

Just Saying..

January 10th, 2013
9:32 am

““Well the fact is, the Democratic Congress incurred the bills”

So now the Treasury issues “D” bonds and “R” bonds?

Just Saying..

January 10th, 2013
9:35 am

““I’ve never backed off from a fight,…”

Other than Vietnam, Sax?

MarkV

January 10th, 2013
9:35 am

The hypocrisy of Chambliss’ statements about the fiscal cliff deal is palpable, even if explainable by his reelection concerns. After the four years of Republicans’ paralyzing the Senate by filibuster he dares to accuse of the President of insisting on what he ran on in the election, won, and was supported by a majority of the people?

But even that pales in comparison with the complete idiocy of Chambliss’ claim that the bills requiring raising the debt ceiling are just the bills that the Democratic Congress and this administration incurred. The legal obligations include, among other things, Social Security and Medicare benefits, interest on the debt, military salaries etc. How does Chambliss distinguish the money to be paid for those items from whatever the Democratic Congress and administration “incurred,” and the items the Republicans voted for?

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 10th, 2013
9:36 am

Republicans are ready to increase the debt limit and implement common-sense spending controls. Let us hope Obozo and the Democrats back down from their irresponsible threats to obstruct progress.

Darwin

January 10th, 2013
9:39 am

So Republicans pass the biggest increase in the history of Medicare in 2004 and now they want a Democratic president to offer cuts in social programs. What planet do you guys live on?

Tap Out

January 10th, 2013
10:08 am

Nonsense….which is actually a viable currency in Georgia.

Kyle Wingfield

January 10th, 2013
10:10 am

sailfish: All comments are in moderation these days between evening and morning. Your 8:07, however, is too long for a blog comment: Resubmit it with a short excerpt and a link to the rest of the piece, and it’ll be fine.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 10th, 2013
10:16 am

Darwin, would you support repealing that Medicare Part D? You understand that Obozo INCREASED spending on it, making it even more generous to seniors, right?

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 10th, 2013
10:18 am

I’m calling out saxby for his utter bs…
———

Chambliss is referring to Obozo increasing spending by around $700 billion above what he inherited.

Utter BS? Still you.

[...] Check out this curious quote from U.S. Saxby Chambliss that my AJC colleague Kyle Wingfield tacked onto the end of his column today: [D]oes the bitterness in Washington ever make him think twice about running [...]

sailfish

January 10th, 2013
10:22 am

kyle

OK – thanks

Senator bernie sanders nails it:

“My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won’t talk about is their spending. They won’t discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal to let Medicare bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed”

JDW

January 10th, 2013
10:26 am

@Kyle…you sure that was coffee you guys were drinking?

“the Democratic Congress incurred the bills”…O’ Dear Saxby meet George. He was once President. Raised deficit spending from 0 to $1 trillion plus by giving away money in tax cuts, starting unfunded wars and running the economy in the ditch. Time to pay the bill.

As for this nugget…”“He was pretty open about the fact that, ‘Look, if we go off the cliff, if you guys don’t give me what I want, if we go off the cliff, I’m going to get what I want.”

Elections have consequences, win and you set the agenda, lose the other guys do. Rather than whining and holding your breath the responsiblity of the the losers is to work within the parameters set by the winners.

JDW

January 10th, 2013
10:29 am

@LBB…”Chambliss is referring to Obozo increasing spending by around $700 billion above what he inherited.”

Then like you he is wrong…as always. Obama has increased spending less than 2% a year since the Duhbya Debacle…less than any president in modern times.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 10th, 2013
10:30 am

Bernie Sanders seems to have forgotten that the last deficit before Dems took the Congress in 2006 was $160 billion. Our President Bush never proposed or ran a trillion dollar deficit. That dishonor belongs solely to Obozo.

WAW

January 10th, 2013
10:35 am

When members of Congress have one secretary, are paid a flat salary with no perks each year of their tenure, and no government retirement benefits, then (and only then) talk about cutting Social Security and Medicare. We all have to give a little and some have to give up their aristocracy. Lord Clarence, Downton Abby is fiction so is the United States Congress (the only bi-partisan fact known to exist).

Dave

January 10th, 2013
10:44 am

I just love the good Senator blaming Obama. As I recall the GOP turned down a four to one spending to tax increase deal that Obama and Boehner cooked up last year. The dynamics have changed and the deal offered isn’t as good, in good part because of GOP intransigence and now it’s Obama to blame?

JDW

January 10th, 2013
10:46 am

@LBB…”Our President Bush never proposed or ran a trillion dollar deficit. ”

Factually incorrect…Duhbya both proposed and ran FY 2009. Deficit $1.4 trillion.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 10th, 2013
10:52 am

No, JDW, $3.7 trillion (Obozo’s annual spending) is not a 2% decrease over $3 trillion (Our President Bush’s spending).