Declaring that “we’ve done our work,” Tennessee Republican Diane Black tells Newsmax TV that it is becoming less and less likely Democrats will put forth an 11-hour deal to stave off the first wave of $85 billion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to kick in on Friday.
“We so far have not seen anything from our counterparts in the Senate nor have we seen a plan to replace the sequester from the president,” said Black in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “So unless there is something that comes from the Democrats in the Senate, or from our president, I would say that the sequester is going to go into place.”
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Black, who is a member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees, said she sees no indication that Democrats are willing to “come to the table” while President Barack Obama shows little interest in reducing spending beyond his campaign rhetoric.
“Now the president is asking again for another tax increase. He just got a tax increase and he’s not talking about spending, unlike when he was in the campaign mode and he said he wanted to cut funding by $3 for every $1 in revenue,” she said. “It’s very disappointing, though, that he’s still going out and he’s still campaigning and he’s talking to folks all over the place and using such scare tactics when we know there are reasonable cuts that can be made.”
Black said Republicans are open to “doing true tax reforms” when asked if her fellow GOP lawmakers would be open to another tax increase.
“We’re really ready on the corporate side. We’ve been working on the individual side,” she explained. “The code is very complicated and we need to have a code that is verified and is simpler, which will help job creation.”
She said that changes to the tax code would stimulate the economy. “If we condense those brackets and we lower the rates and we broaden the base we can actually get some work going, which is really want we need,” Black asserted. “The economy is suffering — and if we were to have a pro-growth tax reform, we could see the economy would pick up and so would the jobs.”
Black also dismissed the possibility that House Speaker John Boehner could lose his speakership if Republicans were to agree to tax hikes as part of a deal to avert the automatic spending cuts, something that Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin recently said was a possibility.
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“I don’t’ see that happening. I really don’t,” she said. “We’re going to stay with what we voted on to begin with, and what we promised the American people is that we’re going to get control over spending. We have out-of-control spending.”
She added that revenue is back up to about its 50-year average. “We’re back up to that,” she explained. “So the revenue is coming in. We need to talk about getting our spending under control.”
And that’s one reason why Black insists that Republicans are “disappointed” by Obama’s tactics of trying to win support for his spending proposals.
“We are so disappointed that the president is using this time to scare the American people,” she said. “We can find a way to make these cuts — and make them reasonable — rather than across the board. Across the board is really not the way to do this because you’re using a hatchet and there are some programs that obviously are very important to the American people that we don’t need to be cutting.”
She said that she and other Republicans would prefer to see a “scalpel approach” to cut spending.
“What the president is doing is to me unconscionable,” she said. “He is the leader of our country and he’s making all these stops in all these different states as if he’s campaigning for the election, and scaring people about things that honestly don’t need to happen. It’s his choice. He’s making that choice to scare people when there are obviously some programs that can be combined to save money.”
She said that both parties acknowledge that waste and fraud creeps into government spending.
“We all can admit that and come to the table and use that as part of the way to replace the sequester,” she asserted. “It’s really just so disappointing to me that the president is using the bully pulpit to do this and vilifying the Republicans, who frankly have already done the work.”
Black, who is also a trained nurse, is leading an effort on behalf of more than 60 Republican lawmakers to get the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine how Planned Parenthood and other organization that provide or promote abortions use government funding.
“I want to see our taxpayer dollars being used for women’s health in a comprehensive way,” according to Black. “I want to be sure that when those dollars are used and that a woman is going to a health clinic to get services, that they’re comprehensive.
“In other words, if I go there because I have a problem that I believe is related to maybe a reproductive issue — but there are other issues that are surrounding that — that they can get that comprehensive service,” she insisted.
Black said she wants to make sure that women “are getting the full complement of services that women need — not just reproductive services.”
With respect to Obamacare, Black said that Republicans must continue to question the various rules and regulations that are being written to implement the president’s healthcare reform over the next decade.
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“We need to continue to take a look at these provisions that will be coming online and saying is this really going to do what that bill was supposed to do? And that is to give greater access and cut the cost of care,” said Black. “We see already that the implications of this Patient Affordability Act — commonly called Obamacare — is causing an increase in the cost in getting insurance, increasing costs in services.”
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