The Washington Times - July 23, 2012, 08:16AM

Former Vermont Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean offered a characteristically blunt take on the “fiscal cliff” of looming spending cuts coupled with the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts on Jan. 1: Let it happen.

“Let’s just go over the fiscal cliff,” he said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “Everybody’s going to bite the bullet. The Republicans are going to hate the taxes and the Democrats are going to hate some of the cuts, but it’s going to have to happen.”

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Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, disagreed.

“I don’t think the answer to our economy right now is a massive tax increase,” he said. “Frankly, we don’t have a tax problem. … The President of the United States has acknowledged the problem we have is entitlement spending.”

Mr. Dean begged to differ, pointing to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projecting that 60 percent of the deficit by 2019 will be a result of the Bush-era tax cuts.

He was also not optimistic about a bipartisan solution to fix the deal.

“If you think Democrats are going to agree to cuts in Medicare and Social Security while millionaires are getting big huge tax breaks, that’s insane,” he said. “Everybody’s going to have to put some skin in this game. This deficit was caused by all of us, and we’re all going to have to put something in the pot to fix this, and that includes tax increases and spending [cuts].”

“Nobody’s talking about solving the deficit problem in any serious way in Washington — that’s what the fiscal cliff is for,” Mr. Dean continued. “This is not the right way to do it, but this is the only way to get it done.”