ALTOONA, Iowa — Republican Rep. Steve King predicted that President Barack Obama will get what he wants out of the fiscal cliff negotiations because he is willing to go over the cliff, and that Republicans would have to be willing to call his bluff to have any leverage.
“I think Barack Obama has nothing to lose from hitting the fiscal cliff, going off the fiscal cliff,” King told The Daily Caller in an interview after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spoke Saturday night at a fundraiser for Gov. Terry Branstad.
“I think he’ll drive the hardest of bargains because he’s happy to see the Bush tax brackets go up. He’s happy to see the death tax go up to 55 percent. That fits his class envy.”
“The payroll tax holiday, I don’t think he believes in that — that was just his tool to be able to say, ‘I cut taxes on the middle class.’ So that goes back,” King went on. “None of those things trouble him. He doesn’t want to reform the entitlement programs. He’s happy enough to cut the Pentagon.”
“So I don’t know why Barack Obama would blink,” King concluded. “And if he’s willing to walk away from the table — and I think he is — if we’re not willing to, then he’ll get everything he’s willing to fight for,” King said. “That’s just how it is.”
King said he is willing to walk away if that’s what it takes.
“I thought that we made a mistake two years ago when we set the stage for the fiscal cliff,” King said. “I voted against it, spoke against it.”
He lamented that that decision had been made during a lame duck session, and that its consequences would now be dealt with during another lame duck session, saying that it was “wrong” because it “disenfranchised” the incoming freshman lawmakers.
“Thomas Jefferson said that large initiatives should not be advanced on slender majorities, and he never believed it ought to be advanced by the discredited Congress that people have voted out of office,” King said. “Can you imagine, what if people said ‘We’ve had it with all of you, we’ll vote you all out of office,’ so we go into lame duck session, put a hundred percent tax on them and pay them back? I mean, it’s just wrong.”
Negotiations about how to deal with the fiscal cliff — the combination of spending cuts and expiring tax cuts set to take effect at the end of the year — began in earnest on Friday when Obama met with congressional leaders. He reportedly made clear that he would not sign off on any deal that did not include more taxes coming as a consequence of Bush-era tax cuts expiring on Jan. 1.