As job growth slows and the nation lurches closer to a major economic contraction, a top House progressive says he sees no evidence that Republicans are open to a fiscal compromise to avoid that outcome.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told TPM at the Netroots Nation conference that the alarming economic news of late isn’t waking House Republicans up to the fact that a compromise on taxes and spending will be necessary to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
“No, I’m not seeing any relent from them,” Ellison said Saturday afternoon. “I see them demanding that their agenda be adopted and not much movement in terms of compromise. I don’t see them compromising.”
Publicly, House Republicans aren’t ceding an inch on taxes.
Early next January, a series of policies are set to take effect that economists warn — and lawmakers recognize — will potentially plunge the U.S. back into a recession. If no action is taken, taxes will rise on virtually all income groups and large, automatic spending cuts will take effect.
President Obama and Democrats insist they will not support a package to avoid the worst of that outcome without new revenues alongside spending cuts. It’s a stance they’ve held since last fall after soaking up trillions in debt reduction via cuts only. Senate Republicans have expressed some openness to new revenues but the House GOP remains adamant against new taxes.
Ellison stated the obvious, which is that Republicans are biding their time because they’ll have a far stronger negotiating hand if the November elections shake out in their favor. He added that a bad economy will help the GOP’s odds of victory.
“I think they are waiting on the outcome of [the] election,” he said. “They will negotiate after the election. Do-nothing government works for them. If the government doesn’t do anything, that works for them.”
David Taintor contributed to this report.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.