Top US Congress Republicans, looking to a battle over the country’s debt in the coming months, called Wednesday for cuts to social safety net programs and rejected appeals for tax hikes on the rich.
“The worst thing Washington can do for our economy is raise taxes on the people we need to start hiring again,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a USA Today opinion piece.
The lawmakers noted that a newly created US Congress “super committee” faced a late-November deadline for recommending $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts over ten years and urged cuts to government-backed health and retirement programs.
The committee “will be in a position to make tough choices to rein in the mandatory and entitlement spending that is driving our long-term debt,” said Boehner and Cantor.
“We believe this work can be done without imposing job-crushing tax increases. We should be able to move forward on the areas in which we agree on the former, without tying them to areas of disagreement — such as the latter,” they said.
Republicans, led by Cantor, walked away from debt-reduction talks with Vice President Joe Biden when he pushed tax increases on the rich and wealthy corporations in the name of “shared sacrifice” to counterbalance cuts to social safety net programs especially dear to Democrats.
In a final deal reached just before Washington ran out of money to pay its obligations, Obama gave in to Republicans and signed legislation that did not include tax revenue increases after months of calling for them.
But the embattled president, whose job approval ratings have slumped, has said he will renew his push for such measures as pitched political battles over how best to rein in runaway US deficits resume in earnest next month and as he pursues a second term in the November 2012 elections.
Obama’s Democratic allies, notably House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have said any new drive to cut government programs should be pared with tax revenue increases on the rich and new spending designed to boost anemic US growth.