Obama slams GOP 'Pledge' as giveaway to millionaires, Wall Street

With five weeks remaining before November's midterms, President Obama is slamming the Republicans' legislative agenda as a gift to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

The GOP's "Pledge to America," Obama said Saturday during his weekly radio address, promotes "the very same policies that led to the economic crisis in the first place."

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"It is grounded in the same worn-out philosophy: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself," Obama said.

"That’s not a prescription for a better future. It’s an echo of a disastrous decade we can’t afford to relive."

Unveiled by House GOP leaders Thursday, the 45-page "Pledge" broadly outlines the Republicans' legislative plans for creating jobs, trimming deficits and reducing the size and scope of the federal government. The document also aims to demonstrate to voters that Republicans — who are widely expected to take control of the House in November — are ready with a governing philosophy if those predictions ring true.

The Pledge, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Saturday in the Republicans' weekly radio address, "embodies Americans’ rejection of the notion that we can simply tax, borrow and spend our way to prosperity."

"It offers a new way forward that hasn’t been tried in Washington – an approach focused on cutting spending – which is sadly a new idea for a Congress accustomed to always accelerating it," McCarthy said.

The legislative blueprint includes a number of specific policy proposals, including a plan to use unspent stimulus funds to pay down the debt, and another to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. But as far as paying for those proposals, the document is largely silent.

Extending the Bush tax cuts, for instance, is estimated to cost $3.7 trillion over the next decade — well above the $1 trillion the Republicans hope to recover through undefined cuts in discretionary spending.


The discrepancies haven't been overlooked by Obama, who wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle- and upper-middle class families, but not for those earning more than $250,000 a year. Obama's plan is estimated to cost about $700 billion less than the GOP's across-the-board extension.

"For all their talk about reining in spending and getting our deficits under control, they want to borrow another $700 billion, and use it to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires," the president said Saturday. "On average, that’s a tax cut of about $100,000 for millionaires."

Obama also blasted the Republicans for pushing to repeal new insurance protections for patients and newer financial safeguards for consumers — evidence, the president said, that GOP leaders "want to put special interests back in the driver’s seat in Washington."

House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director MORE (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the agenda is "not intended to cover everything under the sun," but rather lays out "first steps" to rein in government spending that's expected to create a deficit topping $1.3 trillion this year.

"The federal government is too big, it spends too much, and it's out of control," BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director MORE said.

Still, Pledge critics have been quick to note that the Republicans will have no chance controlling federal costs without tackling Medicare, Medicaid and the other entitlements. Although those programs are the largest drivers of deficit spending, the Pledge largely ignores them.

Asked about that omission on Thursday, Boehner said the Republicans would work on the issue later.

"I don't have all the solutions," he said.