Boehner: Obama offers nothing worthwhile

Sept. 20, 2011 at 4:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama offered nothing worthwhile to a bipartisan congressional committee seeking to cut the deficit, House Speaker John Boehner said.

Obama "has not made a serious contribution to its work," Boehner, R-Ohio, said Monday after the president called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes as part of a plan to find at least $3.2 trillion in budget savings over the next decade.

Obama insisted any long-term debt-reduction plan must not shave future Medicare benefits without also raising taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations.

"This administration's insistence on raising taxes on job creators and its reluctance to take the steps necessary to strengthen our entitlement programs are the reasons the president and I were not able to reach an agreement previously, and it is evident today that these barriers remain," Boehner said in a statement.

"I will not support -- I will not support -- any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans," Obama said in a White House Rose Garden address.

"And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share," Obama said. "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable."

Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., a member of the 12-member joint congressional "super committee" -- which is charged with finding $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in savings by Nov. 23 or the federal budget will automatically be reduced by $1.2 trillion starting in 2013 -- said Obama's plan was "defined by political posturing."

"We do not have time to waste on political games and pushing big tax increases that will only make our economy weaker for all Americans," he said.

Committee member Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., endorsed Obama's proposal as a "common-sense approach."

"He laid out the case for putting our fiscal house in order by making difficult cuts and also asking millionaires and billionaires to pay at least the same effective tax rate as many of those who work for them," The Washington Post quoted Van Hollen as saying.

The committee is to hold a work session Tuesday and a public hearing on tax reform Thursday.

Boehner last week insisted the special committee not consider tax increases as part of its plan to reduce the debt.

Obama took aim at Boehner's statement in his remarks Monday, noting Boehner had quickly ruled out taxes despite suggesting he was open to compromise.

"So the speaker says we can't have it 'my way or the highway,' and then basically says, 'My way -- or the highway,' " Obama said. "That's not smart. It's not right."

Boehner told Fox News Business: "I don't think I would describe class warfare as leadership. The government has a spending problem and I don't believe it makes any sense to tax the people we expect to invest in our economy."

But in his speech, Obama said: "This is not class warfare. It's math."

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