GOP leaders quickly scoffed at President Barack Obama’s claim on Sunday that the GOP is irrational and unreasonable, deriding the president’s effort to portray himself as an even-handed supporter of popular tax cuts during the fiscal cliff negotiations.
“Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame,” said a statement released Sunday afternoon from House Speaker John Boehner.
“Republicans made every effort to reach the ‘balanced’ deficit agreement that the president promised the American people, while the president has continued to insist on a package skewed dramatically in favor of higher taxes that would destroy jobs,” the statement reads.
“We’ve been reasonable and responsible,” Boehner added. “The House has passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff, and the president has never called for the Senate to act on those bills. … He instead has simply allowed the Democratic-controlled Senate to sit on them and lead our economy to the edge of the fiscal cliff.”
The president suggested during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Republicans are resisting necessary compromise. (RELATED VIDEO: Sen. Lindsey Graham says Obama has ‘won’ on fiscal cliff)
“Do I wish that things were more orderly in Washington and rational and people listened to the best arguments and compromised and operated in a more thoughtful and organized fashion?” Obama asked during the interview. “Absolutely … [but] when you look at history, that’s been the exception rather than the norm.”
Obama chose to push his claims through an interview with NBC host David Gregory, who is now under investigation for breaking a Washington D.C. gun law barring possession of large ammunition magazines.
Gregory displayed a large-capacity magazine during a Dec. 23 show, even after an explicit pre-show warning against the demonstration from law-enforcement officials. (RELATED OPINION: Apparently, laws don’t apply to David Gregory)
Gregory did not ask Obama about his responsibility for the $6 trillion increase in the government’s debt since his inauguration in 2009.
NBC’a soft-focus interview in the White House came on the final day before the fiscal cliff, when several short-term budget compromises approved in 2010 and 2011 by Obama and Congress are slated to expire.
If unmodified, the expirations will shock the sluggish economy by increasing taxes and cutting spending by a total of roughly $500 billion in the next nine months.
GOP advocates and staffers say the high-stakes fight over the fiscal cliff is one element in the administration’s emerging campaign for the 2014 mid-term elections. GOP supporters say Obama will try to gain a Democratic majority in the House by trying to portray the GOP as hard-hearted advocates of the wealthy, and by widening divides among GOP legislators and supporters.
During the Dec. 30 interview, for example, Obama claimed that the GOP’s “only priority is making sure that tax breams for the wealthiest Americans are protected — that seem to be their only overriding, unifying theme. And at some point, what’s going to be important is that they listen to the American people.”