Sen. John Barrasso, the fourth-ranking Senate Republican, said Sunday that he believes President Barack Obama is “eager to go over” the fiscal cliff for political purposes.
“I think he sees a political victory at the bottom of the cliff: He gets all this 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,” Barrasso said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Barrasso cited a report in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, which said that Obama had threatened House Speaker John Boehner with blaming Republicans in his inaugural and State of the Union addresses if the U.S. went over the cliff.
“That doesn’t sound like somebody who’s working with Republicans to find a solution,” said Barrasso, the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
Negotiations to avert the year-end fiscal cliff broke down this week when Obama and Boehner moved further apart. On Tuesday, Boehner moved to “Plan B,” which he ultimately failed to bring to a vote.
On Thursday, Boehner failed to earn enough broad Republican support for the bill. On Friday evening before flying to Hawaii, Obama said he was still optimistic about a comprehensive deal, but he urged Congress to pass at least a scaled-back deal that held off planned tax increases and some spending cuts while extending unemployment benefits.
Watch Barrasso’s exchange with Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee: