Republicans to Democrats: 'We've done our part' in fiscal crisis negotiations

House Republican leaders said they have done their job in negotiations to solve the looming fiscal crisis. Majority leader Eric Cantor and fellow House leaders have agreed to close tax loopholes to generate revenue to reduce the $1.1 trillion annual deficit.

The Associated Press
Published November 28, 2012
Fox News

House Republican leaders said Wednesday they’ve done their job in negotiations to solve the looming fiscal crisis, while President Obama is returning to the campaign trail to sell tax hikes that studies show won't have much, if any, effect on solving the problem.

“We have done our part by putting revenue on the table,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor and fellow House leaders have agreed to close tax loopholes to generate revenue to reduce the $1.1 trillion annual deficit. But they argue the president has yet to say publicly what cuts he will make to the federal budget -- specifically to costly entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- to reduce the deficit.

They also say the president’s plan to extend tax cuts only to middle-class Americans will not generate enough revenue to significantly reduce the deficit.

The leaders made their argument the same day Gene Sperling, director of the president’s National Economic Council, laid out the general math facing the country should Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement, which some economists say would force the country off the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Sperling told House Democrats that failing to extend Bush-era tax cuts to the top 2 percent of income earners could trickle down to hit the middle class, sources tell Fox News.

On Wednesday, the president will ramp up his public pitch amid a backdrop of hand-picked, middle-class voters at the White House.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn joined the chorus of Republican leaders appealing to the president to instead get engaged in negotiations, noting Obama has no public plan for cuts while continuing to blast Republicans’ demand to extend tax cuts for all Americans.

“All that Republicans are asking is to maintain the current rates until we adopt real bipartisan tax reform,” Cornyn said in an editorial Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News.

The president’s public plan so far is to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who earn less than $250,000 per year. The plan would result in tax increases for the country’s highest earners, who Republicans say have the ability to create jobs.

“We cannot tax our way back to budget surpluses and economic prosperity,” Cornyn also said. “Without major spending cuts and entitlement reforms, we will continue running huge deficits, regardless of what we do on the revenue side.”

The White House and Congress are trying to reach a deal before Jan. 1 – when all of the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire and huge reductions to the federal budget kick in automatically. Those spending cuts are part of a default agreement by Congress after it failed reach a more measured deal to reduce the roughly $1.3 trillion annual deficits that have brought the national debt to more than $16 trillion.

The mix of tax increases and budget cuts will equal roughly $100 billion alone next year and about $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years should Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal. Some economists say that could plunge the economy into a recession.

“We cannot keep postponing structural changes to our largest entitlement programs,” Cornyn added. “And unless we are happy with a tax code that wastes economic resources, stifles job creation and promotes crony capitalism, we cannot keep delaying genuine tax reform.”

Cantor was joined at a Capitol Hill press conference by House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, incoming chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

“Republicans are committed to working with the president, that's why they've agreed to put revenue on the table,” Boehner said. “The spending crisis is coming at us like a freight train.”

Cantor also said he was pleased to see that senior Obama adviser David Plouffe note that Medicare and Medicaid are drivers of the deficit.

Meanwhile, House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday furthered the Democrats argument that the party has already made cuts.

“We have already agreed to over a trillion dollars in cuts,” The California congresswoman said. “We're looking to see what the revenue piece will be to that.”

The president also will be joined Wednesday at the White House by business executives to discuss his strategy.

Among the chief executive officers scheduled to attend the event are Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola, Home Depot's Frank Blake and Brian Roberts of Comcast.

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn told Fox News on Wednesday he was indifferent to the president campaigning, saying that was essentially okay as long as White House negotiators were agreeing to a balanced plan.

Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Obama to present a plan that “goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail."

The president also is using social media to make his argument. The White House plans to promote (hashtag)My2K on Twitter and other social media — a reference to the estimated $2,200 tax increase that a typical middle-class family of four would see if the Bush tax cuts expire. And Obama on Friday is hosting a rally in the Philadelphia area where he is scheduled to lay out his plan.

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