Is going over the 'fiscal cliff' becoming more of a reality?

Author Mark Steyn weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 4, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, it is becoming more and more apparent that the president of the United States is willing to endure the dire consequences of plummeting off the 'fiscal cliff' rather than just sit down and negotiate with Republicans at the table. And make no mistake, this is far from some obscure conspiracy theory. This is becoming the frightening political reality for the entire country. Because what you're seeing now is a man who thinks he has free rein.

You're watching someone who believes that he was reelected with a mandate to do whatever he pleases. He's ignoring the fact that a Republican majority remains in the U.S. House of Representatives, a majority that was sent there to cut spending and impose his tax hikes. Now, all of this has a growing number of lawmakers now openly suggesting that the president may secretly want the country to fall off the 'fiscal cliff.'

Now, that includes the republican senator from Wyoming, John Barrasso. And earlier today, our "Hannity" cameras caught up with him on Capitol Hill. Let's take a look.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, R-WY.: It's increasingly clear to me that the president is very willing to go over the cliff. I think he ought to be spending more time listening and less time lecturing. And the president seems to be just fixated on increasing tax rates even though they may hurt the economy and I'm concerned if we go over the cliff, that what we're going to see is unemployment back above nine percent and we're going to see, you know, a country where we're in a second recession.


HANNITY: All right. Now, the senator is absolutely right. What we heard from the president in recent days amounts to nothing more than condescending lectures. In fact, he sounds like the same hyper partisan candidate that we saw on the campaign trail, you know, the one that worked tirelessly to demonize success, divide the voters of America. And as the senator just mentioned, the president appears to have a downright unhealthy fixation on increasing taxes regardless of what the consequences would be. And bring on the 'fiscal cliff,' he says, who cares if we spiral into yet another recession. And if unemployment goes back up to nine percent, that's not the president's problem, because in his mind if that happens, he'll have yet another golden opportunity to wash his hands of all of his failures and then arrogantly blame the Republican Party.

And to make matters worse, we're learning today that President Obama is a far cry away from waging this battle by his lonesome. As usual, his friends in the main stream media have been willing to continue to do whatever he wants and, that means to say whatever it takes to try and fool you, the American people, into thinking that raising taxes is your only option.

And the extent to which so-called journalists have been recklessly promoting Obama's propaganda is now detailed in a brand new study by the Media Research Center. Now, according to this report, the chief offender of that left-wing bias is none other than ABC News. Yes, it turns out that in the three weeks following the election, the network covered Obama's favorite issue, which is raising taxes 17 times more than spending cuts. And all told, 10 minutes and 18 seconds were devoted to taxes. Now, compared to a whopping 35 seconds of air time on house spending cuts might be a useful tool in actually tackling our debt.

Now, not surprisingly, that trend was mirrored all across the major networks. And here with reaction tonight to that report and Obama's apparent indifference to the approaching so-called 'fiscal cliff,' is the author and columnist and Rush filling Mark Steyn. Mr. Steyn, welcome back to Hannity, sir.

MARK STEYN, COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR: Hey, great to be with you, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you this. Do you think the president -- I'm getting the feeling more and more every day he wants to humiliate Republicans.

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: Am I wrong?

STEYN: No, I think he's figured out that this is actually an opportunity for him to drive a stake through the Republican Party in which everybody's taxes will go up and the Republicans will get a blame for it. And I'm not sure he's wrong about that. I think his strategy all along -- I said this in my book, so it's weird to see it coming true so literally -- is to establish 25 percent of GDP as the new baseline for federal spending. So, he needs everybody's taxes to go up, not just Warren Buffett's. And there's two ways he can do that. He can either get John Boehner to capitulate as John Boehner's got to do, or he can say the hell with it, let's go of the fiscal cliff and stick Republicans with the blame.

HANNITY: There's an interesting number that we have. If the president, this fiscal year that just ended in October, if he had had the top two percent pay in just a little bit more of their fair share, that would fund the government for only 8.5 days. It's not realistic.

STEYN: No. I mean, it's rubbish, all this. That so called Buffett tax, if you implement that on Warren Buffett and all his pals, it will pay off Obama's 2011 deficit in the year 2526, in 514 years time, and then we'll need the next half millennium to pay off his 2012 deficit.

HANNITY: All right. I think the Republicans were sent there with a mandate as well as the president. Obviously the American people voted for the status quo, they voted for divided government. Here's the question I have. Because I want them to think about our kids and our grand kids and what taken the sledge hammer, we're robbing their money. I want them to think about that. But then I'm thinking, if Obama wants to take this country off the fiscal cliff, they need to be willing to go there. They seem afraid of that. Do you see that?

STEYN: Well, I think it's clear from the election that, you know, the majority of Americans essentially voted for European levels of spending. And you can't have European levels of spending. We're one percent under Canada. Americans -- conservative Americans -- think there's a difference between America and Canada. There's actually isn't any more, not in terms of government spending. We're close to Norway. We're not quite the full Sweden yet, but we basically are spending like Europeans, but we're not taxed like that. And the idea that you can close that gap -- I think he figures out, if he can make this level of spending permanent, he changes the United States into a European social democracy and he'll be the most consequential president of the last hundred years. He will finish the work of FDR and LBJ and that will be it, we will be a big Sweden.

HANNITY: Well, it seems like we're close. I mean, we're right there on the edge with all of the predictable results. Greece?

STEYN: Yes. And I think you can a big -- I think you can be Sweden if you got a couple of million people in one little corner of Northern Europe. It's just about possible. But I think to do it for 300 million people.

HANNITY: It's impossible.

STEYN: -- he's risking ruin on a scale unknown, and of course, the other obvious point is that the Europeans are only able to do it because in fact the U.S. Army lives in Germany and actually picks up their defense tab. You can't do it -- there's nobody to bail out America the way Germany's bailing out Greece.

HANNITY: A lot of resentment tonight emerging as it relates to Speaker of the House John Boehner. Louie Gohmert who was on the program the other night, he said hey, I wasn't consulted about this latest offer. I wish I was. This talk about republican conservatives, Tea Party members that were purged from certain committees because they had a criteria list if they didn't meet or match the leadership vote schedule. Is that a message to the more conservative wing of the Republican Party?

STEYN: Oh, I think so. And I think Louie Gohmert, who's one of the serious people in Congress, he's absolutely right to be disturbed about it. It's not John Boehner's job to make this math add up. It's not John Boehner's job to find ways of funding a three and a half or four trillion dollar budget. It's insane. If the Democrats want to have a three and a half, four trillion dollar federal budget, fine, they can be the party of that. There ought to be a party that represents an alternative, and John Boehner is saying no, we'll help you close that gap. Who needs the Republican Party?

HANNITY: So, you think there's going to be an internal squabble, a fight, maybe an attempt to cede him in the end?

STEYN: Well, I don't know about that. But I would say, there's a big choice for Republicans. John Boehner is basically slowly, quietly essentially offering himself as the guy who can kind of run the Obama-size state more efficiently. In other words, he can provide slightly less insane arithmetic for it. There's no point. He's come up with $800 billion of extra revenue. So what? That's half of last year's federal deficit. What's 800 billion in savings over a decade? That's irrelevant. Absolutely. Whatever time he spent negotiating that was a complete waste of time.

HANNITY: Here's my criticism. My criticism is, they seem to be negotiating against themselves. I mean, they give a proposal, Obama gives a non-proposal, and they respond with another proposal. Here's what I don't understand. Seems the answer is simple if they're worried about the PR side or the political side. Pass the bill.

STEYN: Right.

HANNITY: Extend all the Bush tax cuts and then the President and the Senate decides, then the President decides if they want to raise taxes on the middle class or not.

STEYN: That's right.

HANNITY: Put it on them. Put the onus on them.

STEYN: And they will have voted not to do that. I mean, Obama has made a bet that the Republican Party is so inept at the politics of this that they will get stuck with it. He can hang the debt albatross of the biggest tax increase in American history around their necks

HANNITY: He wants it though. And Howard Dean is the only guy that I see other leftist have that has said this is the best case scenario. They get defense sequestration, they get to raise taxes on everybody, and then they blame the Republicans.

STEYN: Yes. Yes. And for Howard Dean, he's a man who basically believes in the European unionization of the United States. And if you believe in that as Obama does, too, then this makes perfect sense.

HANNITY: All right. I've got the CD of yours. Do you really sing on this?

STEYN: I sing on that with a full orchestra. Because you sing the "Devil Went Down to Georgia."

HANNITY: My one song.

STEYN: Yes, exactly. And you've got people have said, you've killed the whole right-wing pundit music business with your rendition of the "Devil Went Down to Georgia." And I felt I had to do something to address the --

HANNITY: "Running on Eggnog," you wrote that?

STEYN: Yes. I wrote that. I'm an immigrant. I came to America. I love eggnog, there was no eggnog song, and I thought, we've got -- we've got "Jingle Bells" --


HANNITY: My father think there's nothing more gross in the world than eggnog.

STEYN: And you call yourself a great American?

HANNITY: A great American.

STEYN: You can't be a great American if you hate eggnog!

HANNITY: Full of cholesterol. The government should ban it.

STEYN: Big government now!

HANNITY: I'm teasing.

STEYN: The eggnog regulatory authority!

HANNITY: Yes, exactly. Like Nanny Bloomberg.

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