Conservative Leaders Urge Tough Line on Fiscal Cliff

By Matt Cover | December 4, 2012 | 5:32am EST

President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, after urging the public to get behind his tax and spending plan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( - Conservative leaders are urging the House Republican conference to take a hard line in fiscal cliff negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats, insisting that they should not accede to President Obama’s demand for higher taxes.

President Obama is demanding $1.6 trillion in tax hikes on wealthy Americans over the coming decade, while Republicans have proposed raising $800 billion, not by raising rates as the president wants to do, but by limiting deductions and closing loopholes.

“This a massive collection of spending increases and tax increases,” Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said of Obama's plan on ”Meet the Press” Sunday.

Norquist chastised Republicans for having “impure thoughts” that they could possibly exchange higher taxes for spending cuts, saying the White House would never agree to such a deal.

“Every Republican who had impure thoughts about 'Maybe I could raise taxes a little because the other guys would be reasonable' has got to go back to the drawing board. They’ve just been told there are no real reforms in this budget at all.”

Norquist told a Politico breakfast meeting that Republicans needed “distance” from any deal that involves raising taxes, saying they could not have their fingerprints on “the murder weapon.”

“I’m not planning on losing the tax debate we’re having right now. But the tax issue will be more powerful in 2014, 2016 than today,” he said on November 28. “If the Republicans lose in such a way that they have their fingerprints on the murder weapon, then you have a problem.”

American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas echoed Norquist, saying that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) should make sure his caucus holds firm against any proposed tax hikes.

“There is no economic reason that higher taxes need to be part of a solution to the so-called “fiscal cliff,” and the American Conservative Union will oppose any effort to raise taxes that will prevent increased revenue that comes from economic growth,” Cardenas said in a statement Friday.

“We also agree with the House Speaker, John Boehner, when he says that his Republican conference is taking the principled position in opposing tax rate increases.  We urge the members of his conference to follow his advice and “call out the Democrats who are saying no to spending cuts and who advocate going over the fiscal cliff.”

Colin Hanna, president of the conservative activist group Let Freedom Ring, told that the GOP “must” stay at the table, even if President Obama appears unserious. Hanna said that both parties “fixation” on the top tax rates was a “disservice to the country.”

“Tax increases cannot solve the problem,” Hanna said.

Instead, he called for the GOP to focus on cutting spending, which is the only real way to fix the nation’s debt and deficit problems.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh sounded an entirely different note than his other conservative colleagues, saying that the GOP should simply walk away from the table altogether, allowing tax rates to go up on all Americans in January so as to avoid being party to any deal that raised taxes on upper-income Americans.

“So what is the leverage that the Republicans have? To my mind the only leverage they've got is to walk away from this, to stop playing, to stop talking, to stop playing this game,” Limbaugh said on his show Friday.

“There's no way we're ever gonna be tied to pro-growth policies if our fingerprints are on this coming disaster.”

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