Norquist to Newsmax: Obama Weakened by Syrian Debacle

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 08:04 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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The Republicans are in a stronger position heading into budget negotiations because President Barack Obama "is being led around by his nose" by Russian President Vladimir Putin, conservative activist Grover Norquist tells Newsmax TV.

"He's weakened himself because he's looked weak," Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "He's fumbled. He's given the initiative to Putin and Russia — for crying out loud.

Story continues below video.

"The Republicans are unhappy. His own Democratic base is very unhappy. We have a president significantly weaker today than he was two months ago. He's trying to get bailed out on foreign policy as well as domestic policy.

"The president got bailed out by Putin, but in doing so he gave Putin control of the agenda. The president's now not leading from behind, but he is behind. He's just sort of trailing after Putin.

Urgent: Who do you believe has a better proposal for ending the use of chemical weapons in Syria? Obama or Putin? Vote here in urgent national poll.

"Very humiliating for the president," Norquist adds. "Not good for the United States, particularly not good for the people in Syria — and all of this is going on at a time when the president would have liked to have been strong in negotiating with Republicans on taxes and spending.

"The Republicans can do better on the taxing-and-spending issue because the president is weakened by the lousy economy that he's caused, by the problems in international relations that he's caused or his ineptitude — and now we're trying to fix that," he says. "He really doesn't have the standing to turn around and tell anybody what to do."

Negotiations between Congress and the White House began last week toward reaching a deal on a continuing resolution to finance the federal government. If an agreement is not reached, the government will shut down on Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

House Speaker John Boehner has called on lawmakers and President Obama to agree to new budget cuts and other Republican priorities in any legislation to raise the nation's overall debt limit as part of the deal. Republicans also have sought to include legislation that would defund Obamacare.

President Obama has said he will not negotiate with Republicans on terms for raising the nation's borrowing limit and that Congress must allow payments to go through to finance spending that have already been approved. But Boehner charged that Obama's stance departs from that of previous administrations, when budget changes were made to accommodate debt-limit increases.

Further, the president has said that he would reject any bill that defunds Obamacare, even though he would approve a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running.

Rather than seeking to defund Obamacare, Republicans might have better luck in working to delay it, Norquist tells Newsmax.

"Is it possible that the president would sign a delay? It might be possible to sign a delay, not a permanent repeal or permanent defunding, because he's already delayed bunches of his own law because it doesn't work as presently written," he says. "There are some Democrats in the Senate who very understandably fear that next year, as Obamacare clicks in, it could be very messy.

"It's very unpleasant. A lot of people are finding their cost of insurance going up and not having the doctor they were promised they were going to have — the taxes and mandates that people are going to be hit with," Norquist adds. "A lot of Democrats in the Senate might well prefer to delay that for a year, put it past the next election.

"That's an option. I'm not sure it's a wise idea to say, 'If we don't get "X," we'll close the government down.' "

Regardless, the GOP needs to proceed cautiously on the Obamacare issue.

"We care deeply about how damaging Obamacare is," Norquist tells Newsmax. "But we need to do it without shooting ourselves in the foot — and we need to do it in a way that people focus on the problems and the costs and the mistake that is Obamacare.

"You've got to get all the Republicans, almost all the Republicans together and say: 'Look, we want to send the message that Obamacare is flawed — and we're committed to getting rid of it, delaying it, dismantling it, abolishing it.' At the same time, we want to maintain and protect the sequester, which limits spending.

"It's juggling. There are a lot of balls in the air. It's not one ball. If you say, 'I'm only going to look at one ball,' and you're juggling, you drop the other ones," he adds. "We can't afford to lose the sequester. We can't afford to have the American people think that this is a fight about shutting the government down, and lose focus on Obamacare and spending limits."

Urgent: Who do you believe has a better proposal for ending the use of chemical weapons in Syria? Obama or Putin? Vote here in urgent national poll.

Norquist recommends that Republicans follow the lead of Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, "which is to pass a bill that says, 'Here's a continuing resolution for a few months,' so that we can get ready to fight on the debt-ceiling increase and, at the same time, force the Democrats in the House and the Democrats in the Senate to vote 'yes' or 'no' on defunding Obamacare.

"Now, chances are the Democrats will vote 'no,' " Norquist predicts. "That's something everybody should know in time for next year's election."

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