The deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff hasn’t even been signed by President Barack Obama yet, but Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has already moved on to the next fight by suggesting that Republicans should shut down the government if they don’t get drastic spending cuts before agreeing to raise the nation’s debt limit.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Republican defended his decision to vote for the bill that made permanent nearly 99 percent of the temporary tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush.
“What we did is spared as many Americans as we possibly could from a tax increase and we never had any leverage on spending,” Toomey explained. “Our opportunity here is on the debt ceiling. The president’s made it very clear, he doesn’t even want to have a discussion about it because he knows this is where we have leverage.”
“We Republicans need to be willing to tolerate a temporary, partial government shutdown, which is what that could mean,” he added. “And get off the road to Greece because that’s a road that we’re on right now. We can only solve this problem by getting spending under control and restructuring the entitlement programs. This president doesn’t want to go there. We’re going to have to force it, and we’re going to have to force it over the debt ceiling.”
Time‘s Mark Halperin pointed out that another fight over the debt ceiling could cause U.S. credit to be downgraded again and create more chaos in the stock markets.
“Are you willing to do all those things, to use that as leverage?” Halperin wondered.
“I am absolutely convinced that the downgrade and the chaos comes when the market sees an unwillingness to solve the fundamental, unsustainable fiscal situation that we’re in,” Toomey insisted. “A temporary disruption because we have to furlough the workers at the Department of Education or close down some national parks or not cut the grass on the [National] Mall, you know, that’s not optimal. It’s disruptive, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the path that we’re on.”
“We absolutely have to have this fight over the debt limit.”
Following passage of the fiscal cliff compromise on Tuesday night, Obama vowed not to negotiate with Republicans on the debt limit.
“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed,” the president said.
Watch this video from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, broadcast Jan. 2, 2013.
(h/t: The Hill)