WASHINGTON — Republican US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he favored cuts to popular safety net programs but opposed tax hikes on the rich as part of a plan to rein in galloping US debt.
"The country needs economic growth and fiscal responsibility, not higher taxes and new Washington spending and regulations," he said after President Barack Obama laid out his vision for deficit cuts at the White House.
"On job creation, we need to reduce the regulatory burden, prevent tax hikes, and make it easier -- not harder -- for job creators to start hiring again," the senator said, with US unemployment at 9.1 percent.
His comments came after Obama called for combining recently agreed military and domestic spending cuts with tax reforms "that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share" and "modest adjustments" to programs like Medicare, which provides health care to the elderly.
The president said he hoped America's historic loss of its top-notch credit rating would give "a renewed sense of urgency" to a new "supercommittee" tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in cuts to the US deficit.
"While I disagree with the president?s call for tax hikes on American families and job creators, I do believe the joint committee can and should focus on entitlement reform, an area where the president has already said he is willing to support significant savings," said McConnell.
"Serious people on the joint committee will have the opportunity to do even more to get Washington's fiscal house back in order after the past few years of massive borrowing and spending," said McConnell.