Rep. Lee Terry, R-Nebraska, says it would be politically advantageous for President Obama if no deal on the fiscal cliff is met by the end of the year, calling the administration's proposals to tame the nation's debt "disingenuous."
"We come back from the election; we want to get the fiscal cliff resolved," Terry told CNN on Friday. "But yet we aren't seeing anything from the White House."
If no deal is reached by the end of the year, automatic federal spending cuts and tax rate increases will go into effect, a situation economists warn could slow economic growth and push the country back into a recession.
If the U.S. economy goes over the cliff, Terry says, Obama could come back to Congress a couple months later with a bill to lower taxes on the middle class. The Republicans would feel pressure to vote in favor of it because the GOP supports lower taxes, he says.
"Many of us feared the president's real plan was to let us go over the fiscal cliff and blame the Republicans," Terry said. "That's what it looks like we're being set up to do."
Obama held a campaign-style event at a Pennsylvania toy manufacturing plant on Friday, attempting to shore up public support for his approach to debt and deficit negotiations.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner laid out the White House's plan to congressional Republican leaders earlier this week and reiterated the Obama administration's long-held stance that upper-income tax cuts should expire and include additional tax measures that would generate a total of $1.6 trillion in new revenue. The plan added $50 billion for a stimulus program and automatic increases in the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he won't support another increase in the debt ceiling without spending cuts and reforms to match.
Terry said the debt ceiling is "about the only level of leverage we have."
A CNN Poll released this week shows 45% of Americans would blame Republicans if a deal isn't reached, compared with 34% who say it would be Obama's fault. Nearly half say Obama is not doing enough to cooperate with the Republicans, and seven in 10 want him to compromise with the GOP even if he has to sacrifice some of his beliefs.