Former Sen. Rick Santorum says President Barack Obama already has the budget deal he wants from Congress and is willing to allow the Dec. 31 deadline on sequestration to expire in order to make Republicans look bad.
"He's saying no because he likes the deal he has in place," Santorum told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Monday night, referring to the deficit reduction law passed last year that triggers automatic spending cuts and tax increases beginning in 2013 if lawmakers and the president fail to reach a long-term budget agreement.
"The reason I think he's saying no — and I think he will say no to just about anything the Republicans put forward — is because the fallback position is better for him than any deal that the Republicans are going to put forward," the Pennsylvania Republican continued.
"And the fallback position is a tax increase on everybody . . . He can then have his big increases in taxes, and then at the same time blame Republicans for taxes going up on lower-income people. That's a win for him."
Santorum, who at one point led the field of 2012 GOP presidential candidates, said if Obama does allow the country to take that dive off the so-called fiscal cliff, Congress and the White House would likely hammer out a deal on tax cuts for lower-income Americans.
But he said the president would still have a victory on two fronts — an increase in tax rates on the wealthy and deep spending cuts that he can also blame on Republicans.
"What he really wants is more taxes, which is what he gets if he gets nothing [from Republicans in the current negotiations]," Santorum said. "And here's the most important thing. He gets big cuts in defense, which he would never get under a negotiated deal of any kind with Republicans and Democrats.
The automatic spending cuts in both defense and discretionary spending, he added, "are going to be much more than any negotiated deal."
Santorum called it a fallback position the president "can live with," adding the problem for Republicans is that Obama doesn't agree the Dec. 31 deadline is actually a cliff.
"He has the deal that was put in place over a year ago, which is all the tax rates going back to where they were [during the Bill Clinton presidency], and two big cuts, a big cut in defense and a big cut in domestic programs," Santorum said.
"He doesn't see it as a cliff. He sees it as actually a pretty good deal they negotiated over a year ago that puts him in a position where he doesn't have to negotiate."
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