GOP accuses Dems of toying with economy

Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics with the economy, after the No. 4 Senate Democrat warned that her party would let $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless the GOP agrees to raise taxes on the wealthy.

“Has it come to this, that Democrats are willing to hurt jobs and tank our economy for the sake of a small business tax hike that would also have disastrous consequences?” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement, noting that economists say going over the “fiscal cliff” would plunge the nation back into recession.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) lamented the ideological impasse that has prevented agreement on a more sensible deficit-reduction strategy.

“In their near-fanatical crusade to inflict even more pain on American businesses, Democrats are now openly admitting that they plan to wait until this debate reaches full throttle and Americans are panicked about the outcome to do anything, because they think it will make it likelier they’ll get their way,” McConnell said.

The statements came in response to a speech by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), co-chair of a legislative supercommittee that failed last year to come up with an alternative to sharp automatic spending cuts and major tax increases. Murray blamed the GOP, saying they were unwilling to ask the rich to pay their share.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a supercommittee member, called Murray’s statements “grossly inaccurate.” He said the GOP offered a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction plan that would have cut tax rates for everyone while raising $250 billion over 10 years solely from the wealthiest taxpayers — an assertion Democrats dismissed as mathematically impossible.

Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.

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