Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich urged Republicans on Wednesday to simply "back out" of all negotiations with President Barack Obama to avert the fiscal cliff, saying that they were ceding their leverage by even talking with the White House.
“My number one bit of advice to the congressional Republicans is simple: Back out of all of this negotiating with Obama," Gingrich said at a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., according to the Daily Caller. "The president is overwhelmingly dominant in the news media. You start setting up the definition of success [as] finding an agreement with Obama, you just gave Obama the ability to say to you, ‘Not good enough.’”
Gingrich portrayed the fiscal cliff as a "fantasy" Democrats are using to push higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy while squeezing out the GOP's goals of large-scale entitlement reform and spending cuts, and said congressional Republicans were actually in the driver's seat.
“One of the things I would say to House Republicans is to get a grip,” Gingrich said, according to the Ventura County Star. “They are the majority. They’re not the minority. They don't need to cave in to Obama. They don't need to form a surrender caucus.”
Gingrich made a similar argument in the wake of the elections, telling Human Events that GOP leaders should approach the decision to enter negotiations on the fiscal cliff with caution.
“Republicans have to insist that there were two mandates on Election Day. There’s a mandate for Obama and there is a mandate for House Republicans. So, it’s important to put in context that they are meeting as equals to talk about the country," Gingrich advised in an interview with the outlet. "They are not working for Obama, but they are willing to work with Obama.”
Since the beginning of talks, some Republicans have come out in support of additional revenue through capping tax deductions and eliminating loopholes as part of a compromise. One lawmaker, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), broke with his party and suggested that his colleagues accept Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class, and only after that work to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will expire at the end of the year without a new agreement. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled this week that he would stand firm on rejecting any increase in tax rates.