Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming believes President Barack Obama is "comfortable going off the [fiscal] cliff."
AP / Steven Senne
"I think the president is increasingly showing his hand that he is comfortable going off the cliff," Barrasso tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD, in response to a question about President Obama's negotiation strategy. "He’s not involving Republicans in the process. He was playing golf this weekend with Bill Clinton, Ron Kirk, and ex-DNC chair Terry McAuliffe. He’s not seeming to be one to work together. He seems to be lecturing more than listening. And I just think that it’s increasingly clear he's comfortable going off the cliff."
The Republican senator believes Obama's posture is being reinforced by bad advice he's getting from some of his fellow Democrats. "[T]hat’s what he’s being advised to do by a number of his Democratic colleagues—Howard Dean, former chairman of the DNC said they should go off the cliff, Patty Murray, who ran the senatorial committee, said they should go off the cliff," says Barrasso in a phone interview, referring multiple times to Obama’s weekend golf outing with Democratic stalwarts.
Barrasso thinks Obama should be working on getting a deal with the Republicans in Congress instead of spending his weekend on the golf course with such partisans.
Additionally, Barrasso believes Obama's willingness to go off the cliff relates to his view of achieving fairness through the tax code.
"The president is so fixated on higher taxes that he’s giving up on [the prospect of] a healthy economy. We’re going to see unemployment over 9 percent in this second recession, I believe, if the president doesn’t work together to find a bipartisan solution," says Barrasso.
"I can’t figure out many of the president’s moves. But you read Bob Woodward’s book, The Price of Politics, you can see that the president does not seem to want to work together to find real solutions. I look at this, it seems his number one priority—his stated number one priority—is to increase tax rates on the wealthy. Not necessarily tax revenue, but just tax rates. And he said in the past that’s because it’s fair. Well, it doesn’t really fix the problem. It’s still just a drop in the bucket in terms of how much revenue could be raised by increasing tax rates. You know, John Boehner has put revenue on the table. And the president ought to be focused on the number one priority: an actual solution to the problem, not something that’s just focused on his politics."
The Wyoming senator explains the consequences of a cliff dive.
“It means increasing unemployment. It means the possibility of a second recession,” says Barrasso. “And I think that is a huge downside to his presidency for the next four years. You know, he ought to work together. We have a Republican House, we have a Democrat in the White House, and what we need is finding a solution on this, then we can work on other problems in a bipartisan way. It also sends a signal to the markets that we as a nation are not responsible and serious about our current fiscal situation."