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. 'The Right-stuff'

    It takes the 'Right-Stuff' to be a true Leader...and Obama 'The Campaigner in-Chief' just does not possess such Qualities...America what you see is what you get...."A leaderless White House"....Don't blame the GOP for it......

    December 11, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "the senator and speaker told us that Obama would be a ONE TERM president.......look what has happened now..they have no idea how to deal with him. He will continue his attack on the rich while letting the middle class and poor run rampart all over the country. Why am I the only one that see this???"

    Because you're the only one who took the brown acid?

    December 11, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    Obama's dictatorial style will not be accepted without a battle. We are still a democracy, another fact he doesn't seem to grasp.


    Actually, we're a Representative Republic. You must have been absent from 7th grade Civics class the day they taught that.

    December 11, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. James

    The GOP are pathetic...*sigh*

    December 11, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Dude

    Hmmm...everyone seems a little angry about this. Think I'll go someshere else

    December 11, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. RomneyWho

    Ah, The Right Stuff, Ah, are you referring to your self sir? Bawahahahahahahahahahahahahahah . . . stop it, your killing me.

    December 11, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. james

    Lets just go over the cliff, raise taxes on the poor such as myself and the rich, and then lets get the debt payed down very slowly over time.

    December 11, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Dennis Freeman

    If anyone would recognize slow-walking it would be these two stellar legislators.

    December 11, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. DumbasRocks [R]s

    I luv it when a [D] president so deftly rips the legs off of the House [R]s and then beats them over thier heads with their own dismembered appendages. Bill Clinton did the EXACT SAME thing to Newt and his lemming [R]s in the 1990s, with the result that Clinton continued to get what he wanted for the country (and what he wanted from Lewinski) long after Newt was disgraced into capitulatiing, and ultimately Newt left office with his tail between his legs long before Clinton did.

    December 11, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Gregory

    It's totally fair to raise taxes on the poor and middle-class even more...even though they already pay higher taxes than the wealthy right now...besides the fact that the rich's tax rates are lower than they ever been in history. Is this fair? *rich people raises hand* We must share the's just the the poor and elderly must endure more pain...and we deserve even more tax cuts. We believe in shared prosperity.

    December 11, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    And that look of shock and dismay on Boehner's face int he photo above was from when they confirmed for him that yes, 2 plus 2 does indeed equal 4.

    December 11, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "If anyone would recognize slow-walking it would be these two stellar legislators."

    HEY! You drink a 5th of scotch before lunch and see how quickly you scamper around the Capitol Building.

    December 11, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Oddly, the republicans are screaming for Obama to name the cuts yet they supported a candidate who refused to explain his cuts."

    Yep. They have a secret handshake, too: McConnell's Bump.

    December 11, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. ghostriter

    Robo squirrels? That's the best McConnell could come up with?

    Say Mitch, how bout you show us which deductions you are going for? You know, like Romney didn't do....and he was running for president. Show us the CBO rated report on the numbers to see if you can actually do what your "plan" (or lack thereof) says.

    Obama has outlined what he wants as far as taxes. Republicans have not outlined anything except the outline. Like most proposals presented by republicans, it's long on rhetoric and short on facts.

    December 11, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. 2014 Vote

    American people are going to have mass protest because of these republicans is destroying our country.
    I mean we are going to vote all these republicans out of the office 2014.

    December 11, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Arbogast

    Obama should be more specific, as long as Boehner first agrees to a tax-rate increase on incomes over $250,000 (as well as closing loopholes and reducing deductions on that group).

    December 11, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Steve

    It looks like the Speaker doesn't want to have to be the one introducing the painful cuts, so later he can point fingers at Democrats and say look, it was their idea, rather than presenting the cuts he would like to see (instead presenting a pie in the sky figure of cuts that he wants). You want the cuts, you need to propose them. Don't sit back and yell t the president for not leading, if that's the case, take charge yourself and make a tough decision. But then, you have another election you have to win in a couple of years, don't you

    December 11, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. jpmichigan

    President doesn't show spending cuts, but continues to call for more spending. Only spending cuts will be those automatically done when we go over the cliff.

    December 11, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Annie, Atlanta

    I have a few. Extra special tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Tax breaks for corporations who ship jobs overseas. Tax subsidies for multi-billion dollar corporations like the oil companies. The money they're going to waste on building a newer home for the Atlanta Falcons right here in GA when they have a place that is sufficient. Taxpayer funded health care for our congress critters, when so many of them think repealing Obamacare is a good idea. I'd like to see these losers live on what the elderly get on SS, or what a family of four below poverty level gets in food stamps. It's sickening what our elected "representatives" think is fair these days – special breaks for billionaires paid for by people who would go hungry or homeless without a little help. Just sickening.

    December 11, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. patNY

    I have an idea! Just place all the programs each side wants to or is willing to cut on pieces of paper, placed in a big bowl, no side knows exactly what the other wrote down, and Obama and Boehner take turns picking out the cuts from the bowl, until they reach at least $1.5 trillions...and whatever is picked from the bowl is final.

    December 11, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Meeps

    I thought it was the job of the House to manage the budget? Shouldn't Boehner be proposing the cuts and the President responding? I couldn't find out what any of the cuts actually were in Boehner's first plan. Did any of you see and understand Boehner's cuts?

    December 11, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair


    I have an idea! Just place all the programs each side wants to or is willing to cut on pieces of paper, placed in a big bowl, no side knows exactly what the other wrote down, and Obama and Boehner take turns picking out the cuts from the bowl, until they reach at least $1.5 trillions...and whatever is picked from the bowl is final.
    Not bad... no bad at all...

    December 11, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Jack

    The Prez doesn't have to name the cuts. There will be cuts. Most Dems accept this. The negotiations begin AFTER the GOP accepts the small increase in taxes on the super-rich.

    December 11, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The ball is in the Republicans hands since they have always proclaimed to be better for the economy and that's why they won't budge because that takes away the only argument they have against Obama and Democrats in 2016. In other words, they have nothing to run on, absolutely nothing and with that said the GOP will create their own demise. Everything is pointing in the wrong direction for the GOP and they can't stop it.

    December 11, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |

    GOP = Mr. Rock? Meet Mr. Hard Place.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008-2016

    December 11, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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