Republicans reject Obama budget plan as he takes it on road

Congressional Republicans dug in to fight President Barack Obama’s plan to skirt the fiscal cliff, rejecting his tax-and-spending proposal as the president heads out today to sell it to the American public.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner shuttled among congressional leaders yesterday with a plan to trade $1.6 trillion in tax increases for $400 billion in unspecified entitlement program cuts, Republican congressional aides said.

Republicans complained that the offer was little more than a rehash of old budget proposals, setting the stage for more contentious negotiations over the next several weeks as the year-end deadline approaches for more than $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases to kick in.

“If the president is going to lead on this critical issue, he has to propose a plan that can actually pass,” said Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. “This is simply not a serious proposal.”

Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said on CNN today that the Nov. 6 elections gave Obama the upper hand.

“We had an election, and the president said we needed more revenues from those most able to pay,” Hoyer said. “Obviously the American public made a judgment.”

Pennsylvania Travel

Obama today is scheduled to visit a manufacturing plant in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, about 33 miles north of Philadelphia, to emphasize his call for an extension of 2001 and 2003 tax rates for middle-income households. He is using the approach of the holidays to argue that families will curb spending if they don’t know whether they will have to pay more in taxes next year.

The president is going to a facility of the Rodon Group, which is the only U.S. manufacturer of K’NEX Brands, which makes Tinkertoys, K’NEX Building Sets and Angry Birds Building Sets. The company also produces plastic parts for the construction and pharmaceutical industries.

The fiscal plan presented by Geithner yesterday was modeled on Obama’s budget proposal from February and includes at least $50 billion in economic stimulus spending for this fiscal year, according to the aides. It would permanently increase the U.S. debt limit to avoid the need for congressional action, said one of the aides, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Geithner met separately with each of the top four leaders in Congress in their first direct talks since Obama hosted the leaders Nov. 16 at the White House.

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