Defiant Tim Huelskamp exasperates MSNBC hosts

December 21, 2012

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), the conservative lawmaker who has been perhaps the most outspoken in criticizing House GOP leadership, struck a defiant tone on taxes Friday morning in the wake of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) failure to round up enough support for his fiscal cliff “Plan B.”

Asked several times in a combative interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether he would vote for a compromise that included any tax increases, Huelskamp repeatedly said he would not.“Raising taxes doesn’t solve the crisis at all. That’s the misleading statement that all sides are making," said Huelskamp, who was recently stripped of his posts on the Budget and Agriculture committees by the House leadership. "I am not going to vote to put people out of work, and that’s what these tax increases do."

Even after last year’s debt-ceiling deal and numerous GOP-backed stopgap funding measures, Huelskamp maintained that, “there’s not been a cut in this town for literally decades.”

Nonetheless, he promised that “we can still get this done.”

“I’m prepared to keep working for another 10 days. ... Let’s do a Plan W. Go to work,” he said.

The conversation on MSNBC next turned to last week’s shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn. Huelskamp announced that the tragedy has not changed his position on new gun control measures, which he opposes.

“It’s not a gun problem; it’s a people problem,” he said.

Host Joe Scarborough pressed Huelskamp about why he had criticized those calling for gun control in the wake of the shooting, even as he has called for a conversation about violent movies and video games. The lawmaker responded that he was not seeking to politicize the issue. “I’m not saying to pass a single law about that because I think that would be politicizing the issue,” Huelskamp said.

Scarborough responded angrily, asking, "Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of 20 little six and seven-year-old children, I’m using that for political purposes, Tim?"

After the interview wrapped up, the hosts and other guests on the show openly expressed their exasperation.

“There is the problem for the Republican party right there,” host Mika Brzezinski tweeted.

“It was stunning,” said Washington Post opinion columnist Eugene Robinson, a guest. “It was depressing. I didn’t know whether to scream or weep. But there you see the problem.”

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David Nakamura · December 21, 2012