Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey says House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans will not cave to President Barack Obama’s demands for tax increases to help reduce the deficit.
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Armey also said Tuesday that Obama has not put everything on the table as he has claimed — and he doesn’t even have everybody at the table during discussions on raising the debt ceiling.
“President Obama is into income redistribution,” Armey said. “I think he wants to raise taxes on wealthy people because he doesn’t think it’s fair that they are wealthy. John Boehner is correct: To raise taxes for any reason would be further repressive to the performance of the economy and would result in less revenue.
“The focus that the Republican House majority is bringing to the question, which I think is the first one, is we must cut spending, we must bring spending under control,” said Armey, who now heads the conservative FreedomWorks organization. “If we don’t start with that in extremely large denominations, we will make no progress against this deficit.”
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Also Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered a new plan to allow the president to demand up to $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority by next summer. McConnell said he reluctantly offered the proposal because negotiations with Obama are fruitless.
Some strategists have said the McConnell plan would give the GOP additional ammunition for the 2012 elections; Boehner said he understands what McConnell was doing.
Armey was asked whether Obama can drive a wedge between Boehner and members of Congress who hold tea party views. Armey said it won’t work.
“John Boehner is a very professional, very stoic guy,” Armey said, adding that the speaker has been in Washington for a long time and is aware of the “gimmicks” that take place.
The tea party leader went on to say that conservatives in Congress are pushing hard for a balanced budget amendment despite resistance from the White House and Democrats.
“They are not ready to go out and vote to raise the debt ceiling and thereby giving the administration another blank check in which to start resuming borrowing unless they see some hard and effective limitations on government growth — in fact reductions in government growth,” Armey said. “I don’t think the president can get from the Republican majority . . . any debt ceiling increase that doesn’t show a resulting cut in spending.
“And furthermore, it is that position that is the majority position in America, not the whimsical position that the president takes, which is in effect now that I’ve found the money tree, just let me loose and I’ll spend all I can borrow,” he said.
Republicans should not compromise with Democrats at all during the debt ceiling talks, Armey told Newsmax.
“First of all, to do so would be bad public policy — bad economics,” he said. “And secondly, it would be bad politics. So both in the national interest and in their own electoral self-interest, it should be clear to them that they need to stand by their position of fiscal responsibility, hold the line . . . and make the appropriate attack on this deficit.”
Obama’s claim that everything is on the table is an example of how politicians say “insincere things,” Armey said.
“Not only doesn’t he have everything on the table, he doesn’t even have everybody at the table,” Armey said. “Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the Democrat majority in the Senate are AWOL. And President Obama needs to be telling them: ‘You guys get to this table, understand and appreciate and respect the work that is done — especially by Paul Ryan — to deal with this terrible problem we’ve got with entitlement spending, shut up your mockery and put your own plan on the table and let’s get down to some serious adult conversation.”
Armey also said the warnings about the United States defaulting on its debt are mostly scare tactics and that it won’t happen.
“The fact of the matter is, if it really got down to a tight squeeze like on August Second, the president could reprogram funds within the existing budget,” he said.
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