White House endorses Senate sequester plan, urges House Republicans to act

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday Republicans face "a simple choice" now that Senate Democrats have proposed a plan that would offset the sequester with a $110 billion plan split evenly between spending cuts and the elimination of tax loopholes.

"Do they protect investments in education, health care and national defense or do they continue to prioritize and protect tax loopholes that benefit the very few at the expense of middle and working class Americans?" Carney asked in a statement released by the White House.

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Earlier in the day, Speaker John Boehner told reporters that if the president was "serious about enacting his agenda," Senate Democrats needed to start proposing solutions to looming financial deadlines.

"The president wants more stimulus spending that we know doesn't create jobs, I would expect the United States Senate to go ahead and take it up. The president wants more tax hikes that destroy jobs, then his Democrat allies in the Senate ought to take it up," Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

But with the Senate striking a deal, Carney argued that the ball was back in the court of the House GOP.

"We hope that Congressional Republicans back off their insistence of putting the entire burden of reducing the deficit on the backs of the middle class and seniors because, as the President said on Tuesday, the true economic engine in this country is a thriving and rising middle class," Carney said.

The press secretary added that he believed the "American people overwhelmingly support the approach Senate Democrats are taking."

"They support it because it’s simply unacceptable that the very wealthiest Americans can pay less in taxes as a share of their income than their secretaries and other middle class workers like teachers, cops and firefighters," Carney said.

The Senate plan includes a variation of the so-called Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent for those making more than $2 million annually. It would also raise additional revenues by eliminating tax breaks on oil extractions from oil sands and incentives used by companies to move jobs overseas.

The Democratic proposal would also split $55 billion is spending cuts between defense and non-defense programs, including $27.5 billion in cuts to agricultural subsidies. The military cuts would be phased in between 2015 and 2021.