Republican leaders dismissed proposals of President Barack Obama, rejecting what they saw as a bid for new tax increases after lawmakers agreed to raise rates for top U.S. earners earlier this year, Reuters reports.
If launched as scheduled, the cuts would lead to reducing of federal spending across the board by about $85 billion per a year, split evenly between military and domestic programs. The total of reductions through 2022 would make about $1.2 trillion.
According to the U.S. president, a balanced and comprehensive plan to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction was possible. Mr Obama went on, adding that his proposals to do so during “fiscal cliff” talks with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner last year were still on the table.
Before the spending cuts go into force next month, Mr Obama urged lawmakers to agree to a small package now to decrease economic damage and to win time to negotiate a broader deal.
“So if Congress can’t act immediately on a bigger package … then I believe that they should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with a smarter solution,” Mr Obama told reporters.
“Congress is already working towards a budget that would permanently replace the sequester. At the very least, we should give them the chance to come up with this budget, instead of making indiscriminate cuts now that will cost us jobs and significantly slow down our recovery,” he added.
The Congressional Budget Office revealed on Tuesday that the budget deficit for fiscal 2013 will increase up to $845 billion after four straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits mainly because of the higher taxes being paid by wealthy citizens.
The analysis also found that the $85 billion in spending cuts that the president wants to avoid will go into effect on March 1.
Reactions from Republicans suggested that was likely.
“Sorry, President Obama, but no more tax increases for even more government spending,” said Republican Senator Pat Toomey in a statement. “We should keep our word to the American people and keep the spending cuts you signed into law.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who helped secure the deal that avoided the “fiscal cliff,” suggested that the re-elected president needed to lay out specific spending cut ideas and abandon his tax push.
“The American people will not support more tax hikes in place of the meaningful spending reductions both parties already agreed to and the president signed into law,” McConnell said in a statement.
“Now that Congress has acted on the tax issue, the president needs to lay out significant spending reforms — the other side of the ‘balance’ as he defines it,” he said.
The news comes next day after Mr Obama urged Congress to at least hold a vote on banning assault weapons, the most important step towards restricting of gun violence in the United States.