Republican leaders hit Democrats before Obama meeting

The top two Republicans in Congress took shots at their Democratic counterparts in a newspaper op-ed published hours before their bipartisan meeting with President Obama on Tuesday. 

Despite what they described as positive overtures from Obama, Democrats in Congress have not yet received the message that voters want less spending and government intervention in the economy following their Election Day losses, according to House Speaker-designate John Boehner (Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

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"Despite what some Democrats in Congress have suggested, voters did not signal they wanted more cooperation on the Democrats' big-government policies that most Americans oppose," the two leaders wrote in Tuesday's Washington Post. On the contrary, they want both parties to work together on policies that will help create the conditions for private-sector job growth. They want us to stop the spending binge, cut the deficit and send a clear message on taxes and regulations so small businesses can start hiring again."

Republicans believe they can use the meeting to seize on their momentum from the midterm elections, when they picked up over 60 House seats, with them the majority, and six Senate seats. 

The two leaders held their ground on the expiring Bush era tax cuts, indicating they plan to push for a permanent extension of all the cuts, including those for higher income earners that Democrats want to end.

"We made a pledge to America to cut spending, rein in government, and permanently extend the current tax rates so small-business owners won't get hit with a massive tax hike at the end of December," they wrote. "That's what Americans want. And that's the message Republicans will bring to the meeting today. In other words, you'll have a voice at that table." 

Democrats are expected to stage a showdown with Republicans on the cuts by holding a vote on extending only the middle-class provisions this week, washing away previous talk of a compromise. 

But before that, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are set to huddle Tuesday morning in the Roosevelt Room with Boehner, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), current House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), McConnell, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) 

Political posturing had already overshadowed the widely-expected meeting. Democrats criticized Republican leaders earlier this month for not being serious about bipartisanship when meeting had to be postponed due to a scheduling conflict for the GOP lawmakers.

Boehner and McConnell said they are serious about working with Democrats if they move away from their liberal base to the center.

"We can work together and accomplish these things, but the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress first will have to prioritize," they wrote. "It's time to choose struggling middle-class families and small businesses over the demands of the liberal base. It's time to get serious."