Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Wednesday that the United States is “headed down the road that Europe’s already on” in reflection of the Senate’s fiscal cliff offer.
Shelby is one of eight lawmakers from both sides of the aisle that rallied against the fiscal cliff deal put together by the Senate. The deal extends George W. Bush-era tax cuts for families making less than $450,000 a year and wards off sequestration for another two months. What it fails to address, however, is a plan to cut debt or entitlement spending.
“I [would have liked] to see a grand bargain,” Shelby told Fox and Friends. “And I believe you never know — if we would have held out, maybe it would have done something. The pressure was building on the president to do something. He certainly doesn’t want us to go into recession. But we need fundamental tax reform. We need to reform our entitlements. We need to look at the spending ledger.”
The Senator was joined in voting against the measure by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tom Carper (D-Dela.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Republicans who voted for the fiscal cliff deal, Shelby said, made a big mistake and will “rue the day.” He said he was proud of those lawmakers that stood with him in opposition.
Paul, in a statement before the fiscal cliff vote, outlined why he would note “nay”: “It’s impossible to get to any deal on the fiscal cliff when Majority Leader Reid and President Obama refuse to consider meaningful cuts in spending. They are demanding we raise taxes on working families and small businesses — and worse — using these tax increases for more government spending.
“Sending more taxpayer dollars to Washington isn’t the solution to this situation; cutting wasteful government spending and enabling Americans to keep more of their own money is.”
The fiscal cliff bill moved on to the House Tuesday for consideration and passed 257-167. Congress will now shift focus to its next looming crises and opportunity for political theater: the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner submitted a letter to Congress on Monday saying he had begun a “debt issuance suspension period” that would last through Feb. 28. The Department of the Treasury will employ a series of “extraordinary measures” so it does not exceed the debt limit before lawmakers work out a deal. The debt limit is currently set at $16.394 trillion.