U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) addressed issues related to the so-called “fiscal cliff” at a Cobb County Republican breakfast Saturday. Chambliss, who has come under criticism for questioning a no-new-taxes pledge, told the crowd of 160 that the pending deadline for expiring tax cuts, tax increases and automatic spending cuts must be addressed by cutting spending, reforming so-called entitlements and increases in revenue. He believes revenue can be increased by eliminating tax deductions and loopholes.
Perhaps the most disturbing fact in his presentation was the revelation that the Obama Administration wants Congress to give up the legislative authority to set the debt ceiling for the U.S. government and allow the administration to raise the ceiling at will. According to Chambliss, when Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) heard this offer in a meeting with administration negotiators, he “laughed out loud.”
This administration is again trying to play “king,” ignoring the roles of the respective branches of government established by the Constitution. The debt ceiling proposal is seen by Republicans as evidence that the administration is not serious and wants to “go over the fiscal cliff,” by allowing taxes to rise and across-the-board spending cuts to take effect. If that happens, the Democrats can blame House Republicans and continue to push for additional tax increases.
In response to the criticism of increasing taxes, Chambliss said, "I have never voted for a tax increase and don't intend to vote for a tax increase." But when asked by a member of the audience why the effort is not being made to cut spending first, the senator explained, "It all has to be done together." He also said that "we need more than assurances on cuts."
When asked why Congress did not simply enact the Simpson-Bowles plan, the product of the National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Chambliss replied, "Simpson-Bowles is a great concept, but it's not a legislative package." Of course, President Obama appointed the commission and later ignored its recommendations to reduce spending and reform the tax code, among other things. It never became a legislative package because the president rejected the proposals of his own commission. Sen. Chambliss went on to say that he supported many of the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. He does not agree with increasing taxes on capital gains, however, which is one of the Simpson-Bowles proposals.
The Simpson-Bowles plan was a bold approach. It included proposals to reform Social Security, something which Obama Administration appears to have no appetite for. The only thing the administration can come up with is a war on the wealthy and tax increases for higher-income Americans.