COLUMBIA -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn said Monday that congressional Republicans are acting with one primary goal in mind: To make sure President Barack Obama is a one-term president.
And it is that objective, Clyburn said, that has led to the most recent gridlock in Washington.
"All of this is about President Obama; it's not about anything else," said South Carolina's 6th District representative.
Clyburn gave brief remarks to roughly 200 at a Columbia Rotary Club luncheon before he left to return to Washington for a late Monday vote to extend payroll tax cuts.
Clyburn said the GOP was responsible for backing off a deal for the extension, and Republicans also walked away from the table where the so-called "super committee" was charged with putting together a plan to avoid $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts over the next decade.
Clyburn was a member of the 12-member congressional cost-cutting committee. But, he said, the committee had a 13th member standing right outside the door: Grover Norquist and his no-tax pledge signed by most Republican congressmen.
"Every time we got close to doing it one way, he would pay a visit," Clyburn said in remarks to the media. "When (the GOP) took the position that closing tax loopholes would be tantamount to raising taxes, I knew then that the whole deal was doomed. You're not going to be able to reach an agreement with that kind of irrationality."
Still, Congress has time to avoid the automatic cuts. A Friday deadline is still in sight, Clyburn said.
Republican 1st District Rep. Tim Scott sees it differently. He said he grew up in a household that survived on less than $8 an hour and the middle class is not an abstract entity to him. His motivation for budget and spending debates is what's best for them and what's fiscally responsible.
Scott accused Obama of being more interested in campaigning. And he blamed Democrats in Congress for focusing more on politicking than solutions. The same underlying issue is evident in the fact that Congress has no long-term financial plan for America, he said.
"It is all consistent with people trying to campaign and not govern. Period," Scott said.