President Barack Obama has dramatically upped his demands in the fiscal crisis negotiations: He wants Congress to levy twice as much in extra taxes from Americans as he urged during the election campaign, give up its control over the nation’s debt limit, and fund an immediate $50 billion stimulus for his political priorities.
In exchange, Obama offered to consider — but not necessarily accept — GOP proposals for cutting $400 billion from Medicare and other programs strongly favored by off-year voters.
That listening session would take place sometime in 2013, giving the president plenty of time to wrap the unpopular demand around the necks of the GOP legislators before the 2014 midterm elections.
The surprise package was given to Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Geithner presided over Obama’s four-year spending spree, which has left 23 million Americans unemployed, underemployed or out of the workforce. That spending has been funded by $7 trillion in borrowed funds or government-printed cash, generating additional debt of roughly $20,000 per person.
The budget package is slated to avoid the economic pain due from the scheduled Jan. 1 imposition of planned budget cuts and tax increases, worth $500 billion during 2013.
Boehner and other Republicans derided Obama’s wishlist, which was described by the New York Times as “a detailed proposal … loaded with Democratic priorities and short in detailed spending cuts.”
The Washington Post described the package as lacking “any concessions to Republicans, most notably on the core issue of where to set tax rates for the wealthiest Americans… [and] it seemed to take Republicans by surprise.”
“I’m here seriously trying to resolve [the fiscal crisis], and I would hope the White House would get serious as well,” Boehner told reporters Thursday.
The package is “a step backward,” said the Republican’s minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.
Some GOP legislators also complained about Obama’s use of a closed-door negotiation process.
“Until this fantasy ‘plan’ from a secret meeting is made public and scored by the Congressional Budget Office, it does not exist,” said an evening statement from Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republican’s ranking chairman on the Senate budget committee.
“Based on history, we can safely assume that reports that this ‘plan’ saves $4 trillion is a fabrication [and] is a distraction that allows the White House to continue to run out the clock so it can have maximal leverage to force through a bad deal in the last minutes before midnight.”