President Barack Obama is the “Driver-in-Chief when it comes to the fiscal cliff, because it doesn’t matter what is put on his plate,” Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn tells Newsmax TV.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Simpson-Bowles. It doesn’t matter if it’s from John Boehner,” Blackburn, the new vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “It doesn’t matter if it is something from any other member of the House or Senate.”
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“Nothing seems to please him or is worthy of consideration unless you’re going to include tax increases. The American people do not want to see their taxes go up. This is not what the president campaigned on. We want to see him look at reducing the spending and also getting our fiscal house in order, and looking at this in an orderly process — and that’s not what he’s willing to do.”
And even though Obama has dismissed House Speaker John Boehner’s plan, which includes $800 billion in new tax revenues, at least the Ohio Republican has offered a plan, Blackburn said.
“Speaker Boehner has put something on the table. I don’t agree with everything that he brings forward, but the good thing is this: You have Republicans. We’re a big tent. We’re looking for answers. We’re looking for solutions. And we continue to put ideas out there.
“If the president says he doesn’t want to cut spending, if he says he does not want to address entitlements, if he does not want to address Medicare or Social Security — then what does he want to do?” Blackburn asked. “How does he plan to solve this? You can’t tax your way to prosperity. You cannot get yourself off the fiscal cliff by raising taxes that will pay for about eight or nine days of federal government spending.”
Boehner’s plan does not have anything in particular that she does not like, Blackburn said. “I just don’t want to see tax rates go up on anyone — and then we have to be very careful in how we look at tax reform. It needs to be a very thoughtful approach. And we need to make certain that the middle class is protected in that approach.”
The three-term representative is, however, more concerned that Obama appears to be pushing the nation toward the fiscal cliff.
“What we’re looking at is a president who seems willing to go off the cliff because he gets what he wants,” Blackburn said. “He gets the higher tax rates that automatically take place. Many of those are on the middle class.
“A great example of that is the sales-tax deductibility that is enjoyed in states like mine that don’t have a state income tax. The president would also get additional cuts into defense spending — and that is also something that he’s wanted to see.”
And any member of Congress who backs tax increases as part of any fiscal plan can expect trouble with voters, Blackburn said.
“Anyone that votes for increases in tax rates, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, is not going to be looked at kindly by the American people. What they want to do is see federal spending brought under control. They want the focus to be put on that federal spending. They want the size of the federal government to shrink.
“They’re tired of regulatory overreach. And they want to see Washington get it back together — and they want to see some of kind of interchange between the White House and Congress,” she added. “We in the House have passed bills that would deal with this. We did not have to be here. And it is because there has not been a willingness to deal with spending — and because we have a tax policy that’s temporary and spending that is permanent, we are now at this place.”
In her new role on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Blackburn hopes to stem the policies of such federal agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Trade Commission.
“My priorities are making certain that we continue to reign in the regulatory overreach that we see, wanting to make certain that those agencies are sticking to their mission and that they’re not experiencing mission creep,” she said. “ ‘Mission creep’ is very expensive for the American taxpayer.”
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