A Republican lawmaker working on budgetary issues told "Fox News Sunday" that he believes President Barack Obama wants to go over the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year, and may not be negotiating in good faith.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the chairman of the Republican policy committee, told Fox's Chris Wallace that he expects the U.S. will go over the cliff.
"I believe the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes," Barrasso said. "I think he sees a political victory at the bottom of the cliff: He gets all this additional tax revenue for new programs, he gets to cut the military, which Democrats have been calling for for years, and he gets to blame Republicans for it."
For the past week, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner worked to pass what he called Plan B, a tax deal that had no chance of receiving presidential approval, in an attempt to twist Obama's arm ahead of the end of the year, when the Bush tax cuts expire.
That plan failed when Boehner could not wrangle enough votes from the more conservative elements of his caucus, leaving Obama to plead with House Republicans late on Friday to sign off on at least a limited package of tax cuts for the middle class, before everyone sees their taxes rise.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and who appeared on the show as the Democratic counterpoint, responded that responsibility for making a deal lies with more than just the president, and that Congress needs to show more willingness to meet Obama halfway.
"We only have nine days left here," Conrad said. "When are we going to get serious about actual solutions?"
Despite the amplified rhetoric about a fiscal "cliff" that could possibly doom the American economy, few in Washington seem to be treating the imminent tax hikes as a true doomsday. Many politicians are on holiday this weekend, and the Sunday shows -- normally a major battleground for political disputes of this sort -- were populated largely with bit players in the debate.
And as The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim reported Saturday, there are no signs that federal agencies are preparing any major changes ahead of the deadline, suggesting they do not anticipate any direct fallout from the sequestration that goes into effect at the end of the year.