Politics
President Barack Obama offers up a toast as he welcomes the governors of the National Governors Association to the 2013 Governors’ Dinner at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) President Barack Obama offers up a toast as he welcomes the governors of the National Governors Association to the 2013 Governors’ Dinner at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)  

GOP aides refute Obama’s claim of GOP support for tax increases

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

GOP officials are slamming President Barack Obama’s claim that Republicans have supported his push for raising tax revenues by closing tax loopholes.

He has made the claim repeatedly in the last few days while he and his aides demand new tax increases in exchange for a fiscal deal that would stop imminent spending cuts required by the sequester law.

“These cuts do not have to happen,” Obama told a meeting of governors Monday, after listing a series of likely cuts to state health-care budgets.

“Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise … [so] we also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker [John] Boehner championed just two months ago,” he claimed.

“We’d be able to reduce the deficit by … getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected,” he said.

Obama suggested the Republicans’ supposed turnaround is prompted by dislike of him. “I know that some people in Congress reflexively oppose any idea that I put forward, even if it’s an idea that they once supported,” he declared.

But Obama’s narrative is untrue, say GOP legislators and spokesmen.

Since 2011, Boehner and other GOP leaders have said a new cut in tax rates could be funded by the closure of tax loopholes.

The lower tax rates will curb the size and ambition of government, while also spurring the economy, they say.

Boehner and his fellow Republicans have reiterated their offer since early November, shortly after Obama’s victory at the polls.

“My daily reminder: Republicans want to close loopholes in the tax codes … to lower rates & create jobs, not fund more Washington spending,” said a Feb. 25 tweet by Brendan Buck, Boehner’s press aide.

In a later tweet to White House spokesman Jay Carney, Buck also said White House officials do not share the GOP’s focus on tax-reform.

“@PressSec I’ve noticed you guys leave out the part about lowering rates, creating jobs. Just about raising taxes for you. Thats not reform.”

GOP legislators are also pushing back.

“I’ll work with the President to close loopholes, but only if it results in hardworking taxpayers getting a simpler, fairer tax code and an economy with more jobs — that is real tax reform,” said a Feb. 12 statement from Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the House‘s tax-writing committee.

“Instead of closing loopholes to lower rates and create more jobs, the President closes loopholes simply to pay for more spending in Washington,” Camp said in response to Obama’s call during his State of the Union speech for tax increases.

White House officials echo Obama’s claims, and insist that Democrats and Republicans expected tax increases would be approved to avoid the sequester that was scheduled by the 2011 debt-ceiling deal.

“No-one believed that … the replacement for the sequester would include spending cuts only,” Carney claimed Monday.

The president wants to “buy down the sequester in a balanced way,” he added, and he “has approached this in a spirit of compromise.”