ATLANTA — U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss issued a warning Friday to President Obama to prepare for another round of tough bargaining over spending cuts and entitlement reform.
Obama has promised not to get entangled in protracted negotiations during March’s vote on raising the federal debt limit and the extension of the spending authorization like those that dragged on for weeks before the “fiscal cliff” of sweeping spending cuts and tax increases that triggered automatically at midnight Monday.
The Georgia Republican dismissed that promise.
“My message to you, Mr. President, is you’d better strap on your chin strap very tight because this junkyard dog is going to address spending cuts and entitlement reform in the debt-ceiling debate, and that’s going to be a line in the sand for us Republicans and conservatives,” Chambliss said.
The comment came during a conference call with reporters when the state’s senior senator was asked about the announcement Thursday on CNN by Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer that her group was targeting Chambliss for opposition in the primary. She blamed him for voting too often with Democrats, especially for the “fiscal-cliff” fix that postponed the spending cuts while making permanent rates on income and estate taxes that expired Monday.
The “fix” legislation did not restore the lower rates for individuals earning more than $400,000 or couples making more than $450,000.
“I can tell you I live in the state of Georgia and Saxby Chambliss is going to be primaried. Our own senator. It’s unacceptable to have somebody who votes with the Democrats more than they do with the conservatives, and he has proven time and time again he’s all about the spending,” she said.
Some conservatives are upset that the fix legislation, in effect, raised taxes on anyone and that it didn’t include spending cuts. Chambliss said it did hold down taxes for most Georgians while making those rates permanent, however.
“We couldn’t get this done when we had Bush in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate and House,” he said.
Chambliss left Washington shortly after the conference call with plans to travel the state in coming days to talk about the fix vote.