In remarks on the Senate floor today, Alabama senator Jeff Sessions blasted President Barack Obama and congressional leadership for holding "secret" fiscal cliff negotiations.
"I rise today to express my reservations about the fiscal cliff negotiations that are currently underway," said Sessions. "Over the last two years, Congress and the President have held an endless series of secret negotiations. There have been gangs of six and eight, a supercommittee of 12, talks at the Blair House and the White House. But the only thing these secret talks have produced is a government that skips from one crisis to the next. Everything has been tried but the open production of a 10-year budget plan as required by law and open discussions of the difficult choices."
Sessions, the highest Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, saved most of his criticism for the president. "President Obama campaigned on a tax increase of ‘only’ $800 billion," said Sessions. "But now the White House is demanding $1.6 trillion in new taxes. Don’t the American people have a right to see these taxes and where they will fall? Shouldn’t the President of the United States, the only person who represents everybody in the country, lay out his plan, or must that remain a secret too? Will it just be revealed to us on the eve of Christmas or eve of the new calendar year? We will be asked to vote for it, to ratify it like lemmings, I suppose."
The Alabama senator insisted Obama is not serious about cutting spending--or cutting government waste.
In fact, the President is giving speeches calling for even more spending. On Tuesday, he gave a speech in which he said he wants to use the tax hikes to ‘invest in training, education, science, and research.’ Investment, of course, is just code for spending.
Not once in the speech did he discuss entitlements, our $16 trillion debt, or the economic catastrophe that could occur if we don’t get off this unsustainable path.
The President will go out to the press and use all the buzz words—he says he’s for a ‘balanced plan,’ and talks about a ‘responsible path to deficit reduction.’ But where are the cuts? What is the plan? It seems to me the President’s plan is to talk in general, to meet in secret, and then, under threat of panic, to force through some deal that maintains the status quo: more taxes, more spending, more debt.
That’s why the process needs to be taken out of the shadows. With public debate, people would learn facts that are now obscured. ...
Meanwhile, as the President demands more taxes, he refuses to do anything about government waste. Lavish conferences, duplicative programs, billions in refundable tax credits being mailed every year to illegal immigrants. No one is managing this government effectively. Why should the American people send one more dime in taxes to Washington when we won’t reform and manage the money we are already getting from them?
And Sessions criticized the fiscal cliff negotiations for not including the Senate:
So I am concerned about the nature of these secret talks and the fact that the Senate is really not participating. News reports say that it is only the Speaker and the President of the United States who are negotiating. Apparently the Majority Leader of the Senate is not intimately involved, the Chairman of the Budget Committee is not involved, the Chairman of the Finance Committee is not involved. These are Democratic leaders in the Senate. Certainly Republican leaders are not involved.
The Senate is a great institution, and we ought to be engaged. The engagement of the Senate would allow the American people to know what’s happening. They are entitled to that. I believe we can do better. We must do better.”