House Republican leaders blasted President Barack Obama’s deficit-reduction speech Wednesday, saying it was light on specifics and not a serious attempt at addressing the nation’s debt and moving toward fiscal responsibility.
Obama missed an opportunity to engage in fiscal policy debate, according to the GOP lawmakers, who accused the president of using the afternoon speech for his re-election efforts.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Obama wasn’t serious about finding common ground on fiscal policy.
“I have said the president is not serious because his proposals are a far cry from trying to tackle the tough problems we face,” the Virginia Republican said.
Obama laid out a long-term deficit reduction plan that would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. He also called for bipartisan talks about addressing the federal debt to finish by the end of June. The Treasury Department estimates that the nation will hit its debt ceiling by mid-May unless Congress acts, but the Treasury could resort to emergency measures to buy extra borrowing time until early July.
The Republican uproar is not surprising given Obama’s harsh criticism of the fiscal 2012 budget proposal that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced this month. The House is expected to take up the budget bill this week.
Ryan said Obama “punted” on coming up with an actual plan and instead authorized a second commission to come up with a proposal. The president’s plan on Wednesday builds on the work already done by his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and Obama said Vice President Joseph Biden would lead future bipartisan discussions on the national debt.
“This is a plan to have a bunch of other people set up a commission to come up with a plan,” Ryan said.
The Wisconsin Republican described Obama’s speech as “excessively partisan” and said the president’s representation of his bill was “dramatically inaccurate.”
House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) attended Obama’s speech at George Washington University at the president’s invitation.
He summed up his reaction: “And I missed lunch for this.”