By Tracy Mitchell
Congressman James Lankford (R-Okla.), the newly elected House Policy Committee chairman, says that a "two-step" plan could be necessary to avoid the fiscal cliff with just three days left on the 2012 legislative calendar.
Appearing on Jansing & Co. Wednesday, Lankford responded to the suggestion that Congress put a "down payment" on taxes and entitlements this year while dealing with broader reform in 2013.
"A two-step solution is going to be where we're going to be headed. You can't do major tax reform during this time, and you don't want to do major tax reform behind closed doors," he said. "That needs to be an open process where a lot of people are engaged, because this will be a difficult issue."
House Speaker John Boehner offered his own fiscal cliff solution this week, which proposes generating $800 billion in new revenue without raising tax rates. It does not specify which tax deductions or loopholes would be eliminated. Democrats fear that mortgage credits and charitable giving deductions could be on the chopping block.
Will Republicans have to give on raising tax rates? "No," said Lankford. "The president's proposal is $160 billion of new taxes a year on a $1 trillion dollar problem. We've got to get to the spending side."
President Obama, appearing at the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C., earlier Wednesday, warned Republicans against using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. "If Congress in any way suggests that they're going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again," the president cautioned, " I will not play that game."
When asked whether holding the line on the debt ceiling would give Republicans the upperhand, Rep. Lankford said: "I don't know that it's a matter of leverage we have to get real cuts equal to what we're doing in debt ceiling increase, and if we want to resolve that, the best time to resolve that is right now."