By Justin Sink
The White House on Monday blasted a counteroffer from House Republicans on debt talks as failing to "meet the test of balance."
The White House said the $2.2 trillion offer of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue "includes nothing new" and was not serious. It also faulted the proposal for lowering tax rates on the wealthy.
"President Obama believes – and the American people agree – that the economy works best when it is grown from the middle out, not from the top down."
Pfeiffer also dismissed the GOP for providing "no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve."
Republicans touted their proposal as a much more serious offer than the one President Obama floated last week. Obama's proposal was based on his budget, and included $1.6 trillion in new tax revenues.
The Republican letter, signed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and four other senior Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), outlines a budget plan based on the proposal former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles presented to the congressional supercommittee. The offer includes half of the tax revenues proposed by the Obama administration, would not increase overall tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, and does not include an increase to the debt ceiling.
The plan would reduce the deficit by $2.2 trillion, or by $4.6 trillion if anticipated savings from existing legislation and the wind-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are included.
“What we are putting forward is a credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Earlier Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney argued a Republican proposal needed to show rates on the top 2 percent of earners would rise, saying "the
American people overwhelmingly disagree" with Republicans who want to
maintain Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers. The GOP proposal sent later in the afternoon preserves the Bush-era tax rates, although would eliminate some loopholes and deductions.
"Rates have to rise, and the Republicans have to acknowledge that," Carney said.
Pfeiffer accused Republicans of failing to "get serious" in the negotiations.
Republicans reject that characterization, with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) issuing a statement calling the House plan a “good-faith effort to find common ground.”
“While the president hasn’t moved an inch away from his efforts to please his radical left-wing base, the speaker has consistently shown a good-faith effort to find common ground and a realistic approach to solving the very real economic problems facing our country,” McConnell said. “If the president is serious about joining us in an effort to reduce the deficit and protect the economy, he’ll get off the campaign trail, drop the left-wing talking points, and instruct his staff to negotiate a solution in good faith based on actual written proposals. In short, he'll begin doing what leaders do: Lead.”
— Russell Berman contributed reporting.