Both Rep. Raul Labrador and Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, are confident something will pass soon to prevent tax increases for 98 percent of Americans.
But neither would predict a deal will come by midnight Tuesday, the day a suite of taxes rise and a package of $1.6 billion in budget cuts goes into effect, the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
For Risch, a former Idaho state senator and governor, the last-minute talks to put together a small deal to avert the worst impacts of the fiscal cliff are the latest sign of a lack of leadership in both houses of Congress. For Labrador, who said he couldn’t support House Speaker John Boehner’s “plan B” effort that failed, it’s the lack of deep cuts in all of the packages that keeps him from compromising.
“I’m willing to compromise if we have cuts,” Labrador told Jonathan Karl on ABC’s “This Week.” “In Washington, we talk about raising taxes today and we talk about making cuts 10 years from now. It happened under Reagan. It happened under Bush, and it’s going to happen to us once again.”
Labrador is one of 50 Republicans who told Boehner they could not vote for his proposal that would have extended the Bush tax cuts to all taxpayers making up to $1 million annually. But he blamed Democrats for its failure, because none were willing to support Boehner.
Labrador said Democrats “are like bank robbers” who would prefer taxes to go up on all Americans.
“The money is not in the 2 percent. It’s in the 100 percent,” he told Karl. He also appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley and responded to President Barack Obama’s “Meet the Press” interview, where the president said he wants Congress to pass a simple plan that preserves tax cuts for people making less than $250,000 and prevents a cutoff of extended unemployment benefits.
“I think the president wants to go over the cliff,” Labrador told Crowley. “He’s not negotiating in good faith.”
Risch doesn’t believe Americans recognize just how serious going over the fiscal cliff would be. He’s waiting to see what the Senate leadership comes up with before he decides how to vote, but he also is disappointed more long-term cuts are left out of the short-term deal, with the federal government borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends.
He blames leadership in both parties for not getting serious until a larger deal was impossible. He said such leadership would never have been allowed in the Idaho Senate where he served for years as its GOP leader, the pro-tem.
“If anything remotely like this would have happened, they would toss me out in a heartbeat,” Risch said.
Risch said Saturday he thought a deal that extends some portion of the Bush tax cuts, the current estate tax levels and an extension of the unemployment tax will eventually be approved, possibly by the Jan. 1 deadline.
“I think that passes in both houses,” Risch said. “The problem is getting that to a vote.”