Boehner, McConnell urge Obama to name spending cuts
December 11th, 2012
12:20 PM ET
10 years ago

Boehner, McConnell urge Obama to name spending cuts

(CNN) - Seeking to raise pressure on President Barack Obama, top Republican leaders in Congress called on the White House Tuesday to introduce serious cuts in the ongoing negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff.

"Where are the president's spending cuts? The longer the White House slow-walks this process, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner said during brief remarks on the House floor.

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Boehner described his Sunday meeting with the president as "cordial" but contended he's still "waiting" for Obama to identify entitlement cuts to go along with his proposal to increase tax rates on the wealthy.

"Even if we did exactly as the president wants, we would see red ink as far as the eye can see," Boehner said. "That's not fixing the problem."

Congress faces an end-of-the-year deadline to find a fiscal cliff deal before automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in at the start of 2013. Democrats propose raising revenue by letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire on the top 2% of income earners, while Republicans oppose any kind of tax rate hike and demand spending cuts to accompany increased revenue from eliminating tax deductions and loopholes.

READ MORE: Angry with Obama, GOP threatens political war next year

The president's proposal calls for $1.6 trillion in new revenue through tax increases and reforms, along with $400 billion in spending cuts. Republicans offered $800 billion in revenue through tax reform, but not higher tax rates, and $1.2 trillion in cuts and savings.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, said Obama's $400 billion spending cut proposal is "vague."

"Until the president gets specific about cuts, nobody should trust Democrats to put a dime in new revenue toward real deficit reduction or to stop their shakedown of the taxpayers at the top 2%," the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday on the Senate floor shortly before Boehner's remarks.

He pointed to a number of federally-funded programs that he considers wasteful spending, including a project at the University of California at Davis, where researchers built robotic squirrels to examine why the mammals are willing to confront rattlesnakes, their main predators, in the wild.

The project was awarded a grant worth $390,000 by the National Science Foundation in 2010, according to the university.

"Don't you think (Obama) could put together a list of spending cuts that at least, at least includes robo-squirrel? We are still waiting," McConnell said.

Recent polls show a majority of Americans favor the president's position that includes higher tax rates on the top income brackets. A new Politico/George Washington University survey on Monday said 60% of respondents supported Obama's proposal compared to 38% who opposed it, the latest of four surveys in the past two weeks showing public backing.

On entitlement reform, a source familiar with the debt talks told CNN that the two sides have yet to specifically address the cuts as they go back and forth about their overall goals.

With several Republican senators and some Republican House members expressing openness to the president's plan, one of the running arguments in the GOP calls for agreeing to the president's tax demand now so the talks can zero in on spending cuts.

Firing back to her GOP colleagues on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats and the president have already introduced major savings over the last two years.

"Where are the cuts? They're in bills that you, Mr. Speaker, have voted for," she said on the House floor.

She specifically pointed to cuts in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which included $917 billion in cuts over the next 10 years.

– CNN's Tom Cohen and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Mitch McConnell • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Lisa P.

    "Don't you think (Obama) could put together a list of spending cuts that at least, at least includes robo-squirrel? We are still waiting," McConnell said.
    Here I was expecting more Republican hot air and political cowardice; instead I find Senator McConnell bravely leading the way by calling for the defunding of... oops, sorry: by bravely challenging the *President* to take on the powerful robotic squirrel research industry and defund wasteful robotic squirrel research. Well done, sir! $390,000.00 saved is $390,000.00 earned! Only $1,499,999,610,000.00 to go!

    December 11, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. jinx88

    And what loopholes will you close McConell? Thought so!!

    December 11, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F

    There will be not republican support. The domestic terrorists from the GOP will destroy the country before they give up a tax increase for the wealthiest 2%.

    December 11, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Tom

    Given the time frame to reach an agreement, I'm doubtful any compromise will be long on specifics. There are certainly issues on the Republican side of this debate which also lack detail (e.g., which deductions and tax loopholes might be eliminated to generate additional revenue). Demanding Obama add detail without being willing to reciprocate is just more partisan politics - i.e., trying to get Obama to commit to detailed cuts while leaving much of the revenue side of the equation TBD. Since Obama and the Democrats appear to have the upper hand in these negotiations it seems unlikely Obama will comply. It would sure be nice if both sides put the energy they expend trying to get the upper negotiating position into trying to actually reach a compromise. But let's face it – there isn't a real crisis here. The objective of this exercise has always been about political gamesmanship.

    December 11, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. tor5

    The fact is that, despite their rhetoric, Republicans have never had a real plan to cut spending. Just the opposite. Deficits happen when you start wars, lower taxes, and run the economy in the ditch... a Republican specialty. Now they offer $390K in cuts and say the rest is up to Obama? They're a pathetic, dying party with nothing left to offer the country.

    December 11, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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