Washington (CNN) - As the Senate gears up for votes on competing proposals on how to cut spending for the rest of the year, the number two House Democrat warned that both parties need to work together to address the larger problem driving up the nation's debt – spending on entitlement programs.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer complained that Republicans were distracting the public with the debate over the spending cuts in the bill for this year, but noted, "to their credit" Speaker Boehner and other GOP leaders have committed to including in their budget for next year proposals to address the growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is expected to unveil the 2012 budget blueprint early next month.
Hoyer said both parties should "not demagogue this issue" and said if Republicans put "responsible proposals" on the table Democrats should work with them.
"The public ought not to be deluded that we can get to where we need to be fiscally by simply focusing on non defense discretionary spending. It cannot happen that way," Hoyer told reporters Tuesday.
"We need to look at entitlements, we need to look at defense spending we need to look at tax expenditures, he added. "We need to look at everything across the board if we're going to solve what is truly a fiscal crisis in front of us."
Hoyer, who suggested last summer that raising the retirement age for Social Security should be considered, said "everything ought to be on the table and I continue to believe that."
Perhaps signaling a message to fellow Democrats, Hoyer added, "if Republicans come forward with responsible suggestions I think we ought to engage them."
Republicans have criticized President Obama for not tackling entitlement reform in the budget he proposed for next year.