President Barack Obama has outlined his plans to reduce the nation's massive deficit. The Democrat-led White House and Republican leaders in Congress agree the deficit is threatening the U.S. economic recovery, but Republican lawmakers are rejecting any proposals by the president to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner says any proposal from President Obama to raise taxes would be "unacceptable" and a "non-starter" for budget negotiations. He was joined at a news conference on Capitol Hill by Republican Majority leader Eric Cantor, who said calls for tax increases are "vintage Obama."
"We do not believe that raising taxes is the answer here," said Cantor. "I think the American people understand we have a serious problem in this country. We have a debt that will crush the next generation and the ability for us to see a better future."
The House is likely to begin debate Thursday on a Republican-sponsored 2012 budget bill that would cut trillions of dollars from the federal budget, and re-structure the popular social programs of Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health care coverage for the elderly and the poor. Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Republicans are unfairly targeting the elderly and the poor.
"Republicans say we are too broke to afford the promise of Medicare," said Hoyer. "But we are flush enough to spend trillions in tax cuts for those of us are the best off."
Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said Washington has to take action because other countries are watching to see if the United States can get its soaring deficit and huge national debt contained.
"Well I think they want to know whether America is going to get its act together or whether America is going to become another Greece," said McConnell. "And I think how foreign countries view what we do is very, very significant in this global economy. Is America in decline or is America still rising?"
Last week, Republican and Democratic lawmakers agreed to cut $38.5 billion in spending from the current fiscal year's budget, a deal that narrowly averted a government shutdown that would have begun the following day.
The House is likely to vote Thursday on the 2011 budget bill, with the Senate set to vote on it later in the day.