WASHINGTON -- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) signaled Tuesday that Republican lawmakers may be left with no choice but to accept a deficit reduction deal that includes new revenues as the country approaches the "fiscal cliff."
"It's not clear to me that there may be another way to do it in the future," Toomey said at a Brookings Institution discussion when asked about his party's openness to raising taxes to avoid another fiscal crisis.
In January, nearly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases are scheduled to take effect unless Congress can come up with a legislative solution.
"Let me be very clear. I don't believe that adding new revenue in the form of an increase in the total tax burden is either necessary or optimal or economically or fiscally required to solve this problem, because I think it's a problem that arises on the spending side," said Toomey, who served on the 2011 congressional super committee that tried to reach a bipartisan deal on deficit reduction last year. "But we did recognize that it was politically necessary because it was absolutely essential for our friends on the other side," he added, referring to those talks.
Toomey's admission comes amid a growing chorus from top Democrats that they are not afraid to "go over" the fiscal cliff, putting the onus on their GOP colleagues to back a balanced cuts-and-taxes approach before the clock strikes midnight Dec. 31.
"If we can’t get a good deal, a balanced deal that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) at Brookings earlier this month. Murray served as co-chair of the super committee.
On Monday, Toomey squared off with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on CNBC's "Squawk Box" about the politics behind the increasingly heated debate over the upcoming sequestration cuts, which were triggered by the super committee's failure to agree on a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package.
"I think we ought to do it," Dean said. "Let's just go over the fiscal cliff. Everybody's going to bite the bullet. The Republicans are going to hate the taxes, and the Democrats are going to hate some of the cuts, but it's going to have to happen."
At Tuesday's event, Toomey accused Democrats of "quintupling down" on their threat to push the country over the fiscal cliff -- a partisan stand that he described as not a "substantive solution."
Murray responded on the Senate floor to Toomey's Tuesday comments by accusing Republicans of "holding [the middle class] hostage to continue the tax cuts for the rich" and "scheming ways to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans even more."
At Brookings, Toomey declined to state directly whether his own suggested mix of spending cuts and revenue increases violated Grover Norquist's widely circulated "No New Taxes" pledge, a major impediment to Republican support for any plan that includes raising revenues.
"It depends on your perspective on this. ... [I]f you compare what I proposed to the current law, it's a lower tax burden. If you compare it to the policy we have in place today, it's a higher tax burden," Toomey said.
With a deadline five months away, Toomey acknowledged that the outcome of the fiscal-cliff negotiations during Congress' post-election, lame-duck session would largely rest on political, rather than economic, realities.
"The only guess I can make," he said, "is that the environment will be driven very significantly by how the elections turn out."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the timing of the fiscal cliff. It arrives at midnight Dec. 31.
John Shadegg Wields A Baby
In this past weekend's health care debate, Arizona Republican John Shadegg bravely opened a new frontier by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/10/jon-stewart-mocks-use-of_n_351911.html">using a live baby as a visual aid</a> to complain about health care reform. The infant, Maddie, was introduced as Shadegg's grand-daughter, which Shadegg quickly corrected, saying, "I wish this <i>was</i> my granddaughter." I wish most Congresspersons demonstrated Maddie's level of cognitive development, but no!
Alan Grayson Warns We Will All Die Slowly
Florida Democrat Alan Grayson made headlines when he took to the well of the House of Representatives<a href="http://airamerica.com/politics/10-27-2009/grayson/"> to warn that the GOP health care plan</a> was for all of the nation's uninsured to DIE QUICKLY! But not so quick that you miss all of the manufactured suspense as Grayson flipped through his poster boards.
Tom Latham Regifts The Chinese
Iowa Republican Tom Latham hates him some cap and trade. So much that he <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/politics_nation/2009/06/latham_brings_props_to_house_f.html">decided to box up a hard hat</a> with the words "American Jobs" written on it and send it to China, as a gift. How thoughtful! And all we've gotten in return is a mess of poisonous toys.
Peter Roskam's Into Bondage
Illinois Republican Peter Roskam took a look at the health care bill and saw handcuffs. And "not figurative handcuffs," <a href="http://hotair.com/archives/2009/11/09/video-if-obamacare-is-so-good/">Roskam said</a>, "actual criminal penalties." So, you <i>do</i> mean figurative handcuffs? Anyway, it's a good thing David Vitter sits in the U.S. Senate, because he would have probably been a little inappropriately interested in this presentation.
Michele Bachmann Get's Lei'd
Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann made the acquaintance of some hula dancing Teabaggers from Hawaii, and they brought her a lei, which Bachmann herself could obtain at the airport in Hawaii, were it not for the fact that she believes planes cannot fly over water without the use of witchcraft. Anyway, <a href="http://minnesotaindependent.com/49288/bachmann-lei-health-care-steve-israel-holocaust">she told Congress</a>, "I’m reminded that the one who created this lei also created our freedom. Are we so insensible to the high cost our forebearers paid to purchase our freedom?" So, the Hawaiian Bureau of Tourism created our freedom? I guess this is not supposed to make much sense.
Chuck Grassley, Dragon Slayer
<a href="http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-4-2009/chuck-grassley-s-debt-and-deficit-dragon">CLASSIC CHUCK GRASSLEY</a> (R-Iowa) here, as the Iowan mixed all the metaphors he had at his disposal to inveigh against health care reform: Sir Lancelot! Dragons! Painful weapons! Golden egg-laying geese! The whole thing was like having a Pear Of Anguish inserted into your brain. Unless, of course, you were Maddie -- John Shadegg's not-granddaughter -- who probably likes the pretty pictures!
Chuck Grassley Saw A Bill Murray Movie
More from Charles Grassley: "We should not legislate in a hasty manner and place ourselves in an infinite loop," says Grassley, apparently <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/anneschroeder/0608/Chuck_Grassley_is_a_Bill_Murray_fan.html">drawing the wrong lesson from Bill Murray's GROUNDHOG DAY</a>, in which said "infinite loop" allowed Bill Murray's character the chance to experience personal growth, so that he was no longer the sort of preening dick who'd waste the time of serious people with comparisons to movies he saw one night on Comedy Central.
Orrin Hatch Hates Robin Hood
Utah Republican Orrin Hatch LOVES HIM some children's tales, too, it seems. Thankfully, he kept his stories straight, <a href="http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2009/04/orrin-hatch-quotes-from-disneys-robin-hood.html">citing Robin Hood</a> as a way of discussing Obama's infernal plan to redistribute wealth in America. It's not clear that Hatch quite understands who would be the Sheriff of Nottingham in this metaphor. But look, just be thankful Hatch didn't burst into an impromptu performance of Bryan Adams's "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You." Hatch, we remind you, fancies himself to be quite the singer.
Frank Lautenberg Is Sick Of These Star Wars
New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg <a href="http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/lautenberg_judges_star_wars_519">compared then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's threat</a> to eliminate the Senate filibuster to Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine's efforts to destroy galactic freedom, murder the Jedi and crush "terrorism" with the Death Star. Flash forward to today, and suddenly the elimination of the Senate filibuster doesn't seem like such a bad idea, eh, Senate Democrats?
George Voinovich: Prop Master
When it comes to Congressional visual aids, the master of the form is Ohio Republican George Voinovich, who was the Jean-Michel Basquiat of poster-board-based metaphorical imagery. Check out all that elaborate work! The lovingly rendered "Emperor's New Clothes," the detailed Wheel of Fortune, the G4 Channel courting Pac Man nonsense...<a href="http://www.politico.com/click/stories/0911/charting_the_course.html">we're going to miss the senator when he retires</a>. But you know who won't miss him? The poor interns who had to build this crap.