2012 Republican presidential contenders pan Obama deficit plan

September 19, 2011

The GOP presidential contenders gave a collective thumbs down to President Obama’s tax hiking approach to deficit reduction, with the top contenders balking at raising $1.5 trillion in new revenue by taxing millionaires.

Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) released statements with a simple message: No New Taxes.

Romney, who is running behind Perry in most polls, has cast himself as a corporate turnaround artist, uniquely equipped to deal with what he calls the “real economy” and arguing that raising taxes kills job growth.

“President Obama’s plan to raise taxes will have a crushing impact on economic growth. Higher taxes mean fewer jobs – it’s that simple,” he said in a statement about Obama’s speech on Monday from the Rose Garden. “This is yet another indication that President Obama has no clue how to bring our economy back.”

On the stump, Romney has repeatedly said that Obama has no idea what he is doing when it comes to the economy and is in over his head.

Perry, who has maintained his lead over Romney even after his relatively late entry, called Obama’s approach “bait and switch.”

“The president penalizes investment when it is needed most, discourages charitable giving and doubles down on a failed government stimulus strategy,” Perry said. “Worst of all, the Obama plan fails to provide the certainty employers need to create jobs and the spending and deficit reduction our economy needs.”

Meanwhile, Bachmann declared that “you don’t create jobs by increasing taxes on job creators.”

“If Warren Buffett believes he doesn’t pay enough taxes, then he should write a check today to the Treasury, but he and the President shouldn’t enact warfare on the millions of small businesses, on charities and on middle class America with increased tax burdens,” Bachmann slammed.

“The President is compromising the future of our children with his plan to continue spending and increase taxes, and he is ruining the American economy.”

But maybe what’s most striking about both statements is what they don’t mention that’s contained in Obama’s plan: entitlement reform or the $1 trillion in savings based on winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perry has found himself trying to finesse his statements about Social Security being a “Ponzi scheme” and has seemed to take two different sides on Afghanistan, calling for the troops to come home, but also further engagement on the ground.

Only Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who is dead last in most polls, has mentioned entitlement reform. And he has publicly called for a quicker and larger troop drawdown in Afghanistan. Huntsman called Obama’s plan a warmed-up version of what the president has proposed in the past.

“The most important thing Congress and the super-committee can do is deal with the structural problems that are causing our debt and impeding job creation. Meaningful entitlement reform and revenue-neutral tax reform should be priority #1; tax increases should not make the list.”

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