Even as conservative groups in Washington began ripping it apart, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson this morning defended House Speaker John Beohner’s offer to raise $800 billion in new federal revenue while holding firm on tax rates.
The counter-offer is one-half the revenue that President Barack Obama opened negotiations with last week, and also includes $600 billion in health care cuts. Isakson again asserted that jumping off the “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year – as proposed by some on both the right on the left – would be “stupid.
From his interview on MSNBC this morning, Isakson called Boehner’s deficit reduction plan a good start:
”In fact, I think it’s more reflective of a Simpson-Bowles type of approach, although it’s Simpson-Bowles light. It’s not the whole program. It’s a first step.
“You know, I made a living selling houses for 33 years. You don’t get people together until they finally sit down at the table and negotiate. There’s still too much posturing. Still too much, the president wants it his way, somebody else wants it that way. I believe Tom Coburn was right. It’s time to sit down in a room, see if we can work this out, because going off the cliff would be a very stupid idea.”
Isakson said he doesn’t accept the need to raise tax rates, but that doesn’t mean some wealthier Americans wouldn’t be sending more money to the U.S. Treasury:
”The idea I like the most is capping deductions in the aggregate, so you don’t pick on one deduction or itemized deductions for mortgage interest deductions or charitable deductions. You just have an aggregate that’s a cap. Maybe $35,000, whatever it might be. So you cap the total of deductions. You don’t itemize them and pull one of them out and leave the other on the table.”
Bottom line, Isakson said the White House would end up the victor if talks with Congress were to break down:
”The time to negotiate is now. It’s not time to just say we’re going to punt….It appears to me the president would just as soon us go off the cliff. Everybody’s taxes go up, sequestration takes place, we cut a $1.2 trillion in spending, and then he’ll come back and cut taxes for some people and try and claim himself to be the hero.
“I don’t think that’s the right way to go, because if you do that, you’re going to have negative GDP for at least the first couple of quarters of next year, and a return to recessionary times.”
A Washington Post/ABC News poll out this morning says Isakson may be right:
While 53 percent of those surveyed say the GOP would (and should) lose the fiscal cliff blame game, just 27 percent say President Obama would be deserving of more of the blame. Roughly one in 10 (12 percent) volunteer that both sides would be equally to blame.
And yet, although Monday’s House offer was endorsed by Boehner’s entire leadership team – including former GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – the House speaker’s right flank is exposed. From today’s National Journal:
Heritage Action, the Heritage Foundation’s lobbying wing, alerted its members in an e-mail: “Not only are Republican leaders asking their members to go back on their promise not to raise taxes on the American people, but they appear unwilling to fight for the bold entitlement reforms that won them the House in 2010.”
In an interview with Politico.com, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss appears to concede that he’ll have someone running to the right of him in 2014 – always a dicey situation in a Republican primary:
“I’m a problem-solver and a lot of people don’t want problem-solvers — they’d rather have the issue. And I’m very open at home that I’m going to continue to work hard to solve problems because our country’s in trouble, and you can’t do it without Democrats and Republicans working together,” Chambliss [said] in an interview.
“I’ll never compromise my principle, but I’m certainly willing to work with folks on the other side of the aisle to fix the problems of the country.”
Bob Woodward reports today that Fox News chief Roger Ailes attempted to recruit David Petraeus as a GOP presidential candidate:
[I]n spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested.
Possibly, we now know why Petraeus didn’t bite.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider