Former AZ congressman rips GOP Speaker over "fiscal cliff" failure

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- When it comes to stopping the country from plummeting off the so-called "fiscal cliff," former Congressman John Shadegg said Sunday that his ex-colleague and political rival, House Speaker John Boehner, has been a miserable failure.

The eight-term Republican congressman says Boehner strengthened President Barack Obama's hand and put his party in a weak position.

“[The] kind of most stunning thing happening right now is how badly John Boehner, to be candid, has played his hand," Shadegg said Sunday on 3TV’s "Politics Unplugged."

For weeks now, Boehner and Obama have been trying to cut a deal before the nation goes over the fiscal cliff at the end of the year when about a half-a-trillion dollars in spending cuts and tax increases kick in. The economic effects on the country have been debated, but economists in Arizona say it could cost this state as many 90,000 jobs.

Obama has called for extending a series of tax cuts for those making less than $450,000 a year. Last week the Republican House speaker laid out a proposal known as “Plan B” that would have extended those tax cuts for people making up to $1 million a year. But after scheduling a vote on Friday, Boehner killed the plan after his own party rejected it.

“You would think you’d count the votes to make sure and make sure you have the votes before you announce to the world you’re going to put it on the floor,” Shadegg said on the talk show. “Republican has a weak position and by Boehner putting out a Plan B and then not getting his own members of his conference for his bill, I think weakens our position.”

Shadegg says Boehner should give Obama the tax hikes he wants in exchange for deeper spending cuts to government programs. And by holding up a deal for some of the country’s wealthiest people, Shadegg says the speaker id failing to sell his plan.

“Boehner framed the debate around defending less than 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans in the country,” Shadegg said. “That’s exactly how Obama defeated [Republican presidential nominee Mitt] Romney. Why would you do that?”

Boehner and Shadegg have a long political history. The two served in Congress together for years and in 2006 Boehner defeated Shadegg for the job of House minority leader, the second highest ranking position in the chamber.

Shadegg served in Congress from 1995 until he retired in 2011.