(CNN) - Some of the likely 2012 Republican presidential candidates reacted to President Obama's deficit reduction speech Wednesday. Their responses:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: "President Obama's proposals are too little, too late. Instead of supporting spending cuts that lead to real deficit reduction and true reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the President dug deep into his liberal playbook for 'solutions' highlighted by higher taxes. With over 20 million people who are unemployed or who have stopped looking for work, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on job-creators, entrepreneurs, and small business owners across America."
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: "Today's speech was nothing more than window dressing. President Obama's lack of seriousness on deficit reduction is crystal clear when you look at the budget deal he insisted on to avoid a government shutdown. The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks. When you consider that the federal deficit in February alone was over $222 billion, to have actual cuts less than the $38 billion originally advertised is just not serious. The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable. It's no surprise that President Obama and Senator Reid forced this budget, but it should be rejected. America deserves better."
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: "President Obama doesn't get it: The fear of higher taxes tomorrow hurts job creation today."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "President Obama's speech today shows he has learned nothing about how to win the future. He continues to operate with a left wing worldview that will hurt seniors, kill jobs, raise gas prices, and increase our crushing debt. America needs an honest conversation about saving Medicaid and Medicare by providing citizens with more choices, better care, and more control at lower costs; not emotional demagoguery designed to create a climate of fear and inaction. America needs tax cuts not tax increases to create jobs. Creating jobs and getting back to 4% unemployment is the most important step to a balanced budget. The president's proposal to raise taxes will kill jobs and increase the deficit by putting more people on unemployment, food stamps and welfare. America needs an American Energy Plan that makes full use of all our resources here at home – oil, natural gas, wind, clean coal, nuclear, biofuels, and more.
The president is ideologically wedded to a limited view of America's energy potential that will continue to raise gas prices and further increase our reliance on foreign sources of energy. In his speech, the president lauded the effort of Republicans and Democrats to work together to balance the budget in the 1990s. Yet the solutions he proposed today are precisely the opposite of what we did. When I was Speaker, we passed the first tax cuts in sixteen years to encourage the private sector to create jobs, including what Art Laffer called the largest capital gains cut in history. This led to a drop in unemployment from 5.6% to below 4%. We successfully reformed welfare to lift the poor out of poverty in much the same way Paul Ryan proposes to save Medicaid. We increased defense and intelligence spending to defend freedom. Through those pro-growth measures we balanced the budget and paid off over $405 billion in debt.
To win the future today, I have proposed six steps for the United States to rebuild the economy and rescue the next generation from a dangerous and potentially crushing national debt.
1. Promote stability in the economy by permanently extending the current tax relief. Job creation moved from stagnant to improving in the two months after Congress extended tax relief for two years.
2. Guarantee the United States will continue to be the center of economic activity by making it the most desirable location for new business investment. The United States should match the Chinese capital gains tax rate of zero; dramatically reduce the corporate income tax (the highest in the world) to 12.5%; allow for 100% expensing of new equipment to spur innovation and American manufacturing; and permanently end the death tax.
3. Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. Remove burdensome financial regulation that is holding companies back from taking risks and making new investments.
4. Implement an American energy policy that creates jobs in the United States versus the Obama plan which borrows money from China to give to Brazil to drill for oil and then sell it to Americans.
5. Enforce the fiscal responsibility Americans deserve, control spending, and implement money saving reforms and replace destructive policies and agencies with new approaches.
6. Repeal and replace Obamacare."
Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain: "President Obama's address proved yet again that he values ideology over basic economics and leadership. His budget employs his typical class warfare tactics, insisting on taxing America's job creators into oblivion for what he deems "fairness." In doing so, he makes clear his willingness to further cripple our economy in exchange for pushing his wealth redistribution agenda and abandonment of the free enterprise system. President Obama also took the opportunity to blame everyone but his own administration for this economic disaster, shifting blame to the Bush administration, Congressional Republicans and America's highest earners, neglecting his own administration's reckless spending.
Instead of using this speech as an opportunity to preview a budget that could significantly pay down our mounting debt through meaningful spending cuts and entitlement reforms, he again insisted on saddling America's job creators with an even heavier tax burden to pay down the debt. Meanwhile, Congressman Ryan proposed his own budget that reduces the national debt by $6 trillion without raising taxes on a single American family or business. Most importantly, actions speak louder than words. President Obama claims that his budget proposal would cut $4 trillion in just 12 years. Can we really trust a man who vowed time and time again that his administration would cut the budget deficit in half, but instead, brought our budget deficits to record levels in just half a term in the White House? Indeed, since President Obama just filed his re-election candidacy papers, Americans today got their first televised campaign speech for 2012: all talk, no leadership."