WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Republicans Saturday said it was vital to the U.S. economy that tax breaks for the highest-income brackets be extended.
In the party's weekly media address, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the wealthy were the font of the nation's job creation and allowing their tax bills to go up would have dire consequences on working folks.
"We should not raise these taxes, but we should enact comprehensive tax reform that will generate more revenue, create jobs and increase our GDP by as much as 3.5 percent," Hatch said.
Hatch predicted that allowing taxes to rise for the roughly 2 percent of taxpayers in the upper-income ranks would impact a large number of companies and threaten around 700,000 jobs, The Washington Times said.
Hatch accused President Obama of trying to pull a "classic bait-and-switch" on the nation in which higher taxes would not be accompanied by necessary spending cuts, particularly to Medicare and Medicaid.
Hatch's message came a few days after the White House proposed a plan a Republican congressional aide said included $1.6 trillion in tax increases and $400 billion in spending cuts, CNN.
Hatch said the top priority should instead be keeping taxes low, reducing the budget deficit and agreeing to major overhauls of Medicare and Medicaid, the healthcare systems for the elderly and poor.
"Make no mistake about it -- shoring up Medicare and Medicaid will not be easy," Hatch said, adding the programs were beyond the point they could be stabilized through tax increases alone. "The situation has become so severe that it is the only responsible course to take."