Obama officially threatens to veto Republicans' 'cut, cap and balance' bill

The White House on Monday warned President Obama will veto GOP legislation to “cut, cap and balance” spending and the budget.

In a statement of administration policy, the White House Office of Management and Budget labeled the GOP bill as an “empty political statement.”

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The House Rules Committee is expected to take up the measure Monday, and it is likely to receive a floor vote on Tuesday. The measure would cut spending in fiscal 2012 by $111 billion, cap future spending at 19.9 percent of gross domestic product and allow for the debt ceiling to be increased if a balanced-budget amendment is approved by Congress and sent to the states. 

The administration said the measure, which is not expected to move through the Senate, is unnecessary and unrealistic.

“Neither setting arbitrary spending levels nor amending the Constitution is necessary to restore fiscal responsibility,” the White House said in its statement. “Increasing the federal debt limit, which is needed to avoid a federal government default on its obligations and a severe blow to the economy, should not be conditioned on taking these actions. Instead of pursuing an empty political statement and unrealistic policy goals, it is necessary to move beyond politics as usual and find bipartisan common ground.”


The president's veto threat was followed by a full-on assault from administration officials who blasted the GOP proposal as "extreme, radical [and] unprecedented."

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a conference call Monday afternoon that the Republican plan "enshrines into the Constitution the Ryan plan on steroids." Pfeiffer was referring to the House GOP budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which included significant reforms to Medicare. 

Republicans are rallying around the "cut, cap and balance" measure as their answer to the debt talks as negotiations between the administration and congressional leaders have stalled. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he was disappointed at Obama's veto threat and that the House vote would go forward Tuesday as scheduled.

"It’s disappointing the White House would reject this common-sense plan to rein in the debt and deficits that are hurting job creation in America," Boehner said in a statement. "While American families have to set priorities and balance their books, this White House obviously isn’t serious about making the same tough choices. 

"This unfortunate veto threat should make clear that the issue is not congressional inaction, but rather the [resident’s unwillingness to cut spending and restrain the future growth of our government. If we are going to raise the debt limit and avoid default, the White House must be willing to demonstrate more courage than we have seen to date," Boehner said.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has offered a proposal that would grant responsibility to Obama for raising the debt ceiling, but it is unpopular with House conservatives.

The administration lambasted the "cut, cap and balance" proposal as setting out “a false and unacceptable choice between the federal government defaulting on its obligations now or, alternatively, passing a Balanced Budget Amendment that, in the years ahead, will likely leave the nation unable to meet its core commitment of ensuring dignity in retirement.”

The White House also blasted some of the cuts Republicans have suggested, saying the proposal would “undercut the federal government’s ability to meet its core commitments to seniors, middle-class families and the most vulnerable, while reducing our ability to invest in our future.

“[The bill] would set unrealistic spending caps that could result in significant cuts to education, research and development and other programs critical to growing our economy and winning the future,” the statement said. “It could also lead to severe cuts in Medicare and Social Security, which are growing to accommodate the retirement of the baby boomers, and put at risk the retirement security for tens of millions of Americans.”

—This story was posted at 12:37 and last updated at 3:58 p.m.