Sen. Barrasso: Obama sees a ‘political victory’ in going over the cliff

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Sunday he thinks President Obama wants to dive over the so-called "fiscal cliff."

"I believe the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes," Barrasso told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "He senses a political victory at the bottom of the cliff."

The senator also said he believes the nation will go over the cliff, with the deadline just nine days away.

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Barrasso said he thinks Obama is eager to blame Republicans if Congress cannot reach a deal by the end of the year. Polls have indicated that Americans would blame Republicans more than Democrats if talks fail. 


Barrasso also pointed to a report in the Wall Street Journal late last week that said during negotiations, Obama threatened Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that he would use the presidential bully pulpit to heap blame on the GOP during his "State of the Union" speech next year.

With just nine days until current tax rates expire and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts kick in, Obama left Washington after urging congressional leaders to consider a scaled-back plan to extend some of the tax rates and delay the spending cuts. His plan would extend tax rates for those making less than $250,000 a year and allow them to rise for everyone else.

Barrasso expressed doubt on Sunday that Obama's plan, however, could pass the Senate, and on the same program, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) expressed his own reluctance over the Obama plan. 

"It may come to that but we can do better and we should do better," said Conrad.

Boehner, before shutting down House business the week before Christmas, offered his own bill to extend some of the tax rates, in lieu of a broader deal. His plan, which would have extended rates for taxpayers making less than a million, was summarily rejected by the White House and could not win enough Republicans in the House to guarantee passage.

Conrad scoffed at Boehner's plan, which he said "had no prospect of succeeding." 

But he suggested that Congress should "split the difference" between Obama's last offer and Boehner's last deficit proposal in order to reach a deal. He also rejected the suggestion that Obama wants to go over the "cliff."

Conrad and Barrasso also split over whether Obama needs to show more leadership in negotiations. 

Boehner said last week that the House has done its job and Republicans offered all the concessions they can, but now it is up to the president and Senate Democrats to come up with a deal that achieves broad agreement.

"There are 535 of us here that can provide leadership," Conrad argued, referring to the members of Congress.