By Mike Lillis - 01/15/13 06:54 PM EST
Rejecting GOP ultimatums, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that new revenues must accompany spending cuts as Congress prepares to jump headfirst into a series of high-stakes budget debates.
Republican leaders have vowed that the tax hikes in the recent "fiscal cliff" deal will be the last they consider as lawmakers brace for the coming battles over raising the debt ceiling, avoiding blunt sequester cuts and extending government funding.
But Hoyer, the Democratic whip, said it's "categorically not true" that the last deal takes new revenues off the table in the coming talks.
"I certainly reject it out of hand," Hoyer said during his weekly Capitol press briefing. "You cannot get to where we need to get — to get our country on a fiscally sustainable path — without additional revenues."
"Clearly we need additional cuts," Hoyer said. "But ... revenues have not been resolved. They've only been resolved if you want to do things like shut down the government."
Ahead of the looming fiscal battles, Obama and the Democrats are urging a "balanced" approach that combines entitlement reform with spending cuts and new tax revenues. Republicans, however, are rejecting the notion that new taxes should be a part of the discussion. The focus now, they say, should be on spending.
"The tax issue is finished, over, completed. That's behind us," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier in the month during an interview with ABC's "This Week" program. "Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that's our spending addiction."
Many Republicans are hoping to use the coming debt-ceiling debate as leverage to win significant spending cuts from the Democrats. Obama, however, has said he won't negotiate on the issue. Instead, he's urging a clean debt-ceiling hike, with the tougher deficit debate to take a separate track.
Republicans say they have no intention of granting the president that wish.
"It’s time for President Obama to stop putting our credit rating at risk and acknowledge we need a credible deficit reduction plan attached to any increase in the debt limit," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday in a statement.
Hoyer is pushing back hard, noting that Congress approved every dollar of spending that's pushed the Treasury to the outer edge of its borrowing capacity. With that in mind, he argued, Republicans have no right to blame Obama for running up deficits.
"The debt limit is the Congress's issue. It's the Congress that spends money, not the president," Hoyer said. "The president has no blank check. The president only has what the Congress has authorized him to spend."