GOP knocks Obama on spending, cuts

With an agreement reached between congressional leaders and the White House to avert a government shutdown, Republicans and Democrats took to the airwaves Sunday to parse how President Obama is handling the nation's fiscal future.

Republicans argued that Obama's leadership has been largely absent — a charge that Republicans have made before on this and other issues.

But Democrats had White House senior adviser David Plouffe as the featured guest on four of the talk shows, and he pushed the idea that the president's leadership during the negotiations to reach a deal for fiscal 2011 was strong and selfless.

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"The president has led," Plouffe said on ABC's "This Week." "I mean, sometimes here in Washington, when people accuse you of not having leadership, what they mean is you're not leading a political fight, and the president's view is the country needs leadership that's focused on where do we find common ground so that we can win the future and continue to move the economy forward, not to look at every issue first through the prism of how do we get political advantage over the other party."

House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas), appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," said, "[Obama] introduced a budget that had zero recommendations of the fiscal commission in it. House Republicans have put forth their budget. Frankly, we've included a numbe of their ideas. So it reminds me, I continue to agree with 80 pecent of what the president says, I just disagree with 80 percent of what he does."

Appearing with Hensarling, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) defended the president's handling of the negotiations.

"The president has a difficult assignment," he said. "He's expected to be part of the negotiations but if it looks like he's leading the negotiations he'll get push-back from Congress, Congress will remind him we have several branches of government. So the president was playing an important role here as a facilitator to bring us to agreement, and it worked."

When it comes to future battles over next year's budget and the prospect of raising the debt limit, Republicans were harsher in their criticisms.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) sounded shocked on "Fox News Sunday" when reacting to word from Plouffe that the president was going to speak on long-term deficit reduction. 

He said, "You know, I sit here and I listen to David Plouffe talk about, you know, their commitment to cut spending and knowing full well that for the last two months, we've had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending. I then hear they're going to present a plan as far as how to address the fiscal situation."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who introduced his own budget plan last week, said he couldn't predict what was achievable on long-term debt reduction because he didn't know where Obama stood.

"I don't really know, because the president punted on these issues," he said. "He gave us a budget that didn't deal with any of the drivers of our debt."

On the coming battle over raising the debt ceiling, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) warned that Obama wasn't going to be able to jump in at the last minute.

"The president just can't waltz in and say we're going to have a debt crisis if you don't raise the debt limit, Congress, and we're not going to have any changes and I'm not going to support any changes" Sessions said on CBS' "Face the Nation." 

He added, "The president is going to have to reach out early if he wants to get an early solution -- he cannot just do nothing.

This article was updated and corrected on April 11 at 12:40 p.m.

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