At a Rose Garden news conference Monday morning, President Obama unveiled the details of his plan to achieve more than $3 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade in part by calling on the wealthy to pay more in taxes.
The proposal, which comes as the bipartisan, bicameral debt-reduction committee gears up for its third public hearing Thursday, drew sharply different reactions from members on each side of the aisle – a stark contrast to the mood on Capitol Hill for the first few weeks of the month, when leaders of both parties struck a note of bipartisan cooperation.
Republicans cast Obama’s proposal as an effort to wage “class warfare” and appeal to the Democratic base as the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear. Democrats, meanwhile, praised Obama for promoting a debt-reduction plan that would include both spending cuts and fresh revenue.
Here are some early responses from Capitol Hill; we’ll update this post as more reactions come in:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):
“Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership. The Joint Select Committee is engaged in serious work to tackle a serious problem: the debt crisis that is making it harder to get our economy growing and create more American jobs. Unfortunately, the president has not made a serious contribution to its work today. 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.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):
“Veto threats, a massive tax hike, phantom savings, and punting on entitlement reform is not a recipe for economic or job growth — or even meaningful deficit reduction. The good news is that the Joint Committee is taking this issue far more seriously than the White House.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a member of the bipartisan debt-reduction supercommittee:
“I welcome President Obama putting some ideas on the table and his overall goal of cutting the federal deficit. It is reassuring to hear that the president recognizes that we have a severe debt problem in this country, and I’m sure that the Select Committee will consider his proposals among with many others. However, I am concerned that his deficit reduction strategy sometimes seems more defined by political posturing, such as recycling tax hikes that even lawmakers in his own party have publicly opposed. With the Select Committee’s deadline looming, 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.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a statement ahead of Obama’s speech:
“I welcome President Obama’s continued emphasis on creating jobs for America’s middle class and for his commitment to reducing our long-term deficit as we work to promote economic growth. In particular, I am very encouraged by the president’s focus on the need for tax reform that calls on all Americans to contribute their fair share. And while we await the specific details of the President’s full proposal, we remain committed to strengthening Medicare and Medicaid. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and the entire Congress must seriously consider the President’s proposals as we craft a balanced approach that addresses the number one concern of Americans — jobs.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.):
“The plan put forward by the President today is a balanced approach to create jobs in the short-term and bring down the deficit over the long-term. ... Previous fiscal commissions have called for investment in job creation in the short-term, while setting forward a balanced long-term plan to reduce the deficit. The President’s plan does that, and I urge the House Republican leadership to bring the American Jobs Act to the House Floor immediately for a vote as the Joint Select Committee works on a long-term deficit reduction plan to put our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path.”
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force:
“Rather than take serious the fiscal challenges facing our country, President Obama chose to play political games today by pandering to his base and threatening those that disagree with his proposals. Furthermore, he didn’t even offer a credible plan to bring down our deficit and debt. Not only does he want to raise taxes on American job creators during an economic downturn, but his so-called deficit reduction ‘plan’ doesn’t even address the true drivers of our debt. It’s become obvious to me the president is not committed to making the tough choices necessary to reverse our country’s race towards bankruptcy.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee:
“The President doesn’t get it. Last week, he gave America another stimulus that his own party won’t support. Now, he’s rolling out massive tax hikes that his own party has already rejected. Crass class warfare, a refusal to reform our broken entitlements, and tax hikes on job creators isn’t a solution to Washington’s spending problem and won’t help our ailing economy or the 14 million Americans who are out of work. Tax increases thinly veiled as tax reform isn’t reform.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.):
“Let me tell you, there’s one class that’s really suffering, and that’s the middle class. ... The president will win any battle that plays out on the terms that he has put forward today. ... For the first time in a very long time, Democrats can emerge on top in the tax debate.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), co-chair of the debt reduction supercommittee:
“The President’s proposal is a serious approach to tackling the deficit and creating jobs, and it is certainly welcome as this Committee works on a balanced and bipartisan plan that can pass through Congress and be signed into law by the President.”
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), co-chair of the debt reduction supercommittee:
“By issuing a veto threat as talks have begun in earnest, the president is again undermining the work of the Joint Select Committee. I sincerely hope he doesn’t succeed. What the president describes as spending cuts appears, at best, to be a slight reduction in the unsustainable growth of the government budget that’s occurring on his watch. House Republicans put in our budget fundamental tax reform, and I hope the joint committee can work together to begin reforming our tax code, making it fairer, flatter, simpler and more competitive to create jobs. It’s my hope that the president will support such an effort.”
This post has been updated since it was first published.