House Democrats are prepared to follow President Obama over the so-called fiscal cliff rather than extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, the number two Democrat on the House Budget Committee said Friday morning. She also said that any such deal that doesn't include an increase in the debt ceiling would be a nonstarter.
"We'll go to the mat on this," said Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz. "There's no question we are with the president." Speaking at a conference hosted by National Journal, The Atlantic, and Allstate, Schwartz reiterated that she and her colleagues don't want to go over the so called cliff, which involves a combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts. "We ought to" reach an agreement "because it's the right policy to not let it happen," she said. Asked whether House Democrats would settle for an increase in the tax rates of those making over $250,000 that still ended up below the Clinton-era rates scheduled to go back into effect in the new year, she was unenthusiastic but didn't rule it out entirely. "I don't want to second guess what we might decide," she said, but, "I think we'll go to" the Clinton era rates.
Schwartz also warned Friday that House Democrats could sink a fiscal cliff deal if it doesn't include a clean extension of the debt ceiling. "I don't think you're going to get enough Democrats" to pass an agreement without extending the debt ceiling extension, she said, noting that significant numbers of Democrats have been required to pass other such compromises over the last couple of years because of House Republican defections. "This is not a game. It is serious business," she said in reference to raising the debt ceiling. "It's not where you make the decision about spending and about the debt. We've already made those decisions." Asked whether there are enough Republicans willing to pass a debt ceiling increase without conditions to make it happen, she said, "Let's hope so."