GOP 2012 contenders reject debt deal, say Obama's to blame

Rep. Michele Bachmann and other GOP presidential candidates say President Obama's debt deal isn't good enough.

Several of the Republican 2012 presidential contenders have come out against President Obama's deal with Republicans to raise the nation's debt limit, striking a tone that pre-emptively forgives Republicans for going along with the deal while placing the blame squarely on the president's shoulders.

The candidates predictably have tacked about as far right as possible in the ongoing debt debate, with the exception of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has been cast as the moderate in the GOP field.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a statement today saying he could not support the current deal, which starts by cutting nearly $1 trillion in spending over 10 years and raises the nation's debt ceiling by as much.

"President Obama's leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute," Romney said. "While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama's lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal."

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Borrowing language from the initial, most conservative debt plan the House passed, Romney said that as president, he would have produced a budget that was "cut, capped and balanced - not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table."

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign also said the deal demonstrates that Mr. Obama must be replaced.

"This deal is nothing to celebrate," Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement. "Only in Washington would the political class think it's a victory when the government narrowly avoids default, agrees to go further into debt, and does little to reform a spending system that cannot be sustained by our children and grandchildren."

Earlier in the debate, Pawlenty rejected a plan put forward by House Speaker John Boehner, which Democrats decried as too extreme, though it was less conservative than the "cut, cap and balance" plan.

"I am for the plan that will cut spending, cap it, and pass a balanced budget amendment, but unfortunately this latest bill does not accomplish that," Pawlenty said of Boehner's plan last week.

The two Tea Party-aligned presidential candidates who are also members of the House, Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, voted against Boehner's plan last week and are against the current deal.

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Bachmann's statement on the deal, like those from Romney and Pawlenty's camp, places the blame for it on the president.

"Throughout this process the president has failed to lead and failed to provide a plan," Bachmann said. "The 'deal' he announced spends too much and doesn't cut enough. This isn't the deal the American people 'preferred' either, Mr. President. Someone has to say no. I will."

In a blog post on his website Sunday, Paul was blamed Washington leaders across the board for not getting serious about spending.

"No plan under serious consideration cuts spending in the way you and I think about it," he said. "Instead, the cuts being discussed are illusory and are not cuts from current amounts being spent, but cuts in prospective spending increases... If politicians simply cannot bear to implement actual cuts to actual spending, just freezing the budget would give the economy the best chance to catch its breath, recover and grow."

Huntsman, who served as Mr. Obama's ambassador to China until earlier this year, stands out for his reluctant support of the deal.

"While this framework is not my preferred outcome, it is a positive step toward cutting our nation's crippling debt," Huntsman said in a statement Sunday.

He said he'd encourage Congress to vote for the deal, since it promises large spending cuts, a vote on a federal balanced budget amendment and avoids default. The proposed congressional committee that is supposed to come up with further deficit reduction plans should take on entitlement reform and suggest revenue-neutral tax reforms, without any tax hikes, Huntsman said.

"While some of my opponents ducked the debate entirely, others would have allowed the nation to slide into default and President Obama refused to offer any plan, I have been proud to stand with congressional Republicans working for these needed and historic cuts," Huntsman said. "A debt crisis like this is a time for leadership, not a time for waiting to see which way the political winds blow."

The last portion of Huntsman's statement was an implicit jab at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had been criticized for not being active enough in the debate.

From CBS Moneywatch.com:

Carla Fried: Debt deal winners and losers
Alain Sherter: why the debt ceiling pact is bad economics
Conrad de Aenlle: Debt deal won't fix entitlement spending problem

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