Rep. Peter King on Sunday joined a small but high-profile group of Republican legislators who now say Grover Norquist’s pledge against raising taxes is not relevant to current economic challenges.
King, appearing on NBC’s "Meet The Press," also said that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice should have gathered information beyond “five sentences of unclassified talking points” in order to give a more accurate explanation of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
King agreed with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who said earlier in the week that the anti-tax pledge Norquist has since 1986 asked all candidates for office to sign was outdated, especially considering the slow-growing economy and massive federal deficit and debt which elected leaders are grappling with.
“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” King said. “For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a... declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. And the economic situation is different.”
Speaker-of-the-House John Boehner has already started negotiations with President Barack Obama and his Democratic counterparts in Congress on how to avoid the potentially devestating fiscal cliff combination of automatic increase of tax rates and cuts to the military budget.
King said he expects Boehner to do everything he can to avoid agreeing to tax hikes because the needed revenue can be found by increasing the burden on richer Americans through closing loopholes and limiting deductions.
He added that he would not predict anything about a deal before it has actually been presented to Congress - so that an actual deal can be made between Obama and Boehner for Congress to discuss, rather than have possibilities batted around killing any potential “grand bargain.”
“I don’t want to prejudge any of this,” King said. “[The] bottom line is we cannot have sequestration. We can't go off a fiscal cliff. We have to show the world we’re adults... I think everything should be on the table. I myself am opposed to tax increases. The fact is that speaker and the majority in leader and the president are going to be in a room, trying to find the best package. I’m not going to prejudge it. And I’m just saying we should not be taking ironclad positions.”
There are more important issues in the world, King said, than arguing about a deal that hasn’t been made yet - Benghazi being a primary one.
King questioned whether Rice did her job completely by only repeating the approved list of talking points while doing interviews in the days after the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
He said that as somebody in the national intelligence chain of command, with access to all of the top secret information, she should not have pushed the story about an anti-Muslim video causing the uprising as hard as she did.
“She knew that the story she was giving out was not entirely true,” King said. “She knew that parts had been taken out, for whatever reason, which we still haven’t found out... She gave the clear impression that we thought it came from the demonstration, and the video, and that is not the case. She certainly toned down almost minimized the issue of the terrorist threat. If there were any security reasons for doing that, she should not have emphasized as much as she did about the video and the demonstration because that gave a totally wrong message.”
With knowledge that there was more to the story, he continued to say in the interview, Rice could have given a more accurate explanation of the situation without revealing sensitive information or overemphasizing the information King said she knew was wrong.
“Did she sit down with the National Security Council? Did she sit down with David Petraeus or General Clapper? Who did she sit down with to find out the full story? As a U.N. ambassador, she has to know that a very condensed set of unclassified talking points tells you almost nothing,” King reiterated.
“She had an obligation to get the whole picture, if she didn’t do that, then she failed in her responsibility.”
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