Obama 'unwilling to lead' on deficit, says senior GOP senator

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) ripped President Obama in a Washington Post opinion piece Monday, accusing him of failing to provide leadership in addressing the budget deficit. He also proposed tying any vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling to a 10 percent cut in spending.

“Last month, President Obama would agree to maintain current tax rates only if Congress would agree to increase federal deficit spending. We are headed toward a cliff, yet the president hits the accelerator,” Sessions said.

In the lame-duck session, Obama agreed to an extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy only in exchange for an extension of unemployment insurance.

“Now is the time to act. Yet the president continues to resist any meaningful steps to secure our financial future,” Sessions wrote.

He also criticized Obama's chief economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, for saying Republicans should not use the debt-ceiling vote to limit spending.

“To begin turning the corner, I propose that any effort to raise the debt ceiling be tied to no less than a sustained 10 percent reduction of current discretionary spending. Though this is only a first step, it would finally be a step in the right direction — one the country can easily absorb,” he said.

Sessions called the president's February budget proposal a “defining moment for his presidency” and said “his proposals cannot be timid.”

“The goal is not an era of austerity but an era of prosperity. Good policy will get us there. But for now, the president remains unwilling to lead us in that direction,” the senator wrote.