Amid concerns that lawmakers will be unable to unite to prevent the U.S. economy from dropping off a looming fiscal cliff this fall, the chairman of the House's Republican Policy Committee suggested a solution: Punt the problem for a year.
"What I think we will do is to pass a piece of legislation that will continue the current tax policy for at least a year and send that to the Senate," said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., on C-SPAN's Newsmakers.
Congress has only a few more months to come up with a plan to prevent the expiration of a number of tax measures which, if they were allowed to end, could severely impact the health of the U.S. economy. Furtive bipartisan meetings to craft a solution are underway, but Price offered an alternate plan -- one that has a dubious likelihood of succeeding, as the Democrat-led Senate routinely refuses to take up measures passed by the Republican House. This fact did not seem lost on Price.
"Let the Senate act. If the Senate does not agree with that, that's fine. We would call on them to act and not just to put it in the bottom drawer," he said.
But for the conservative Georgia Republican, the gridlock in Congress is not entirely the fault of lawmakers. He flipped Obama's argument against a do-nothing Congress on its head, arguing that Obama is, in fact, pushing obstruction on Senate leadership to prevent Congress from acting.
"My sense is the president is not encouraging Senator [Majority Leader Harry] Reid to actually be productive. That they're just waiting until the election occurs" to get anything done, he said.
And in contrast to claims from Obama that the Republicans are the root cause of that gridlock and are trying to bar Obama's agenda from getting passed to hurt his reelection prospects, Price said that what might hurt Obama more is if Congress is able to move forward with legislation this fall.
"It's important to appreciate that the president has a narrative out there that congress cannot get anything done and that's why he needs to be reelected. So if you think about it, if Congress get something done --which requires the president to help -- then it harms his narrative," he said.
While Price suggested there was a plan in the works to prevent the fiscal cliff, he offered no clear pathway forward on health care reform, though he did say Republicans would like to see the entire thing repealed if the Supreme Court does not rule it unconstitutional this month.
"It's important for the American people to appreciate that we believe the whole thing ought to be repealed. We believe that there are wonderful solutions to fix the challenges that don't require putting Washington in charge," he said.
Some of those solutions include cracking down on frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits to bring the price of care down, but Price said Republicans would first have to look at what "disruptions" to coverage exist before they can suggest a concrete plan.
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