President Barack Obama used the failure of the congressional deficit reduction super committee to push for tax increases Monday, while portraying himself as a deficit-cutting, tax-cutting moderate eager to protect popular programs.
“There are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voice of reason and compromise,” he said in brief appearance at the White House press room at 5:45 p.m.
Obama promised to veto any effort by Congress to delay the long-term spending cuts that to be triggered by the ideological disagreements between Republican and Democrats.
“We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” he said, adding that Republicans “can still come together around a balanced plan.”
Even as he urged increased pressure on the GOP, he promised to prevent cuts to education, medical research and Medicare. “I’m not about to let that happen,” he said.
The panel was established in August to trim projected deficit spending over the next 10 years by $1.2 trillion.
The federal deficit was $1.3 trillion in both 2010 and 2011, and is expected to be roughly $9 trillion over the next 10 years.
Republicans gave no ground to Obama’s claims.
“Instead of offering leadership to reduce the debt he created, he made the cold calculation that doing so was not in his best political interest,” said a 5.19 p.m. statement from Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“In addition to spending cuts and entitlement reform, Republicans on the committee also proposed achieving significant revenue increases through pro-growth tax reforms—closing loopholes and lowering rates,” said the statement.
At the White House press conference, spokesman Jay Carney denied any White House blame for the failure, and sought to blame Congress for the failure to identify at least $1.2 trillion from the 10-year budget plan.
“This committee was established by an act of Congress. It was comprised of members of Congress. Instead of pointing fingers and playing the blame game, Congress should act, fulfill its responsibility… we call on Congress to fulfill its responsibility… They need to do their job. They need to fulfill the responsibilities that they set for themselves,” he said.
Carney pushed back against charges that the president had worsened the deficit problem over the last three years, and had done little since August to foster agreement between the rival camps.
“Despite the willingness of the president to take extraordinary steps and to bring his party along with him in their willingness to go along with the kind of balanced approach that he felt was necessary and right for the country, in the end Republicans walked away from that deal,” he said.
“There’s one way out of this, which is a willingness to take a balanced approach, the approach that Americans of every political persuasion support,” Carney said.
A “balanced approach” is Obama’s euphemism for increased tax revenues.
Republicans pinned the blame for the failure on Democrats.
“When Republicans tried to meet them halfway, Democrats ran further to the left,” said the RNC statement. “They demanded higher taxes and even more stimulus spending, even though President Obama and other Democrats have acknowledged that taxes should not be raised in a recession.”