A key Republican in the U.S. House says his party was successful in the recent stalemate with President Obama over the partial shutdown of the federal government – because Obama is now willing to negotiate.
The dispute arose when the Democrats in the Senate refused to discuss a budget compromise proposed by House Republicans, and the federal budget expired Oct. 1.
Since then, Obamacare, military spending, the debt ceiling and other issues have been added to the mix.
Then, just as the week was ending, Republicans presented Obama with a proposal that he said he was considering, and it may resolve some of those issues.
Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told WND the solutions are a ways off still, but the goal appears to be getting closer.
“What we have achieved, and it doesn’t sound like much, but with President Obama, this is quite a breakthrough. We’ve achieved the goal … to get the president to negotiate on negotiating,” Fleming said.
Fleming stresses that firm details on any common ground are very premature, but he did offer some educated guesses on where the two sides could be headed.
“We could perhaps have a temporary increase in the debt limit, which would give us time to have more substantive negotiations,” he said. “Hopefully, in exchange for a year-long increase in the debt ceiling, we would also get reforms in our entitlement programs and other savings and maybe even get some relief in sequester.”
Asked what he would like to see in those areas, Fleming said means testing for programs like Medicare could be involved.
“I believe what they’re looking at is charging wealthier Medicare recipients higher premiums. There’s also a discussion about using ‘chained CPI’ for Social Security,” he explained. Fleming said those are two ideas Obama has proposed in previous budgets that Republicans embrace and could well be the foundation for a deal.
On sequestration, Democrats want to roll back all the cuts while Fleming wants to rescind the reductions in military spending.
“Even before sequestration, leading up to it, there was already a $500 billion over 10 years cut to the military,” he said. “So this was a cut on top of a cut, and it hurt our readiness and training.”
The congressman remains a fierce critic of Obamacare and backed efforts to defund and delay the new law. Even though that strategy appears to be a non-starter with Democrats, Fleming urges House Speaker John Boehner and other negotiators to keep pushing for a delay.
“My primary desire would be a delay of full implementation of Obamacare for one year,” said Fleming, so noted that the massive problems with the Obamacare exchanges only add more sense to that idea.
Moderate Republicans, such as Maine Sen. Susan Collins, are trying to find common ground by giving up on defunding or delay but agreeing to scrap the Medical Device Tax contained within the new laws. Fleming hates the tax but isn’t sure that’s a great legislative plan.
“Many of us conservatives are concerned that we don’t want to be nibbling around the edges improving a terrible law, a law that is structurally flawed,” Fleming said.