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GOP leaders preemptively blast Obama on plan to reduce the deficit

Republican Congressional leaders return to Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 13, 2011, after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in advance of his speech on the deficit and his plan for future spending. From left are: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Republican Congressional leaders return to Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 13, 2011, after meeting with President Obama at the White House in advance of his speech on the deficit and his plan for future spending. From left are: John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Updated: 1:51p.m. ET

Republican leaders on Wednesday preemptively hammered President Obama for a speech he will make about reducing the deficit, specifically decrying his plan to raise taxes for wealthy Americans.

In a press conference on Wednesday following a meeting with the president, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said "it is time to act" to deal with the debt crisis. But he emphasized that Republicans "don't believe lack of revenue is part of the problem" - and consequently, "we will not be discussing raising taxes in this particular connection."

President Obama is addressing the nation Wednesday concerning his effort to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. Among the proposals included in his plan will be reductions for spending in Medicare and Medicaid, increased taxes on the wealthy, and cuts for defense costs. He will likely also urge Congress to approve a hike in the debt ceiling, which the government is expected to hit in May.

McConnell, in the press conference, pledged that Republicans would not approve raising the debt limit "unless we do something significant about the debt."

"The need to go forward in the Senate I can report to you as follows: There is bipartisan opposition in the Senate to raising the debt ceiling unless we do something significant about the debt. And in terms of what is significant - in my view, the definition of significant is what we do is viewed by credible by the market, by the American people and by foreign countries," he said.

"No blue smoke and mirrors, no gamesmanship," McConnell added. "A serious path forward - not only short-term but long-term - to reduce spending, is the only thing, in my judgment, that will get the votes in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor argued that the president had little in the way of a plan for reducing the debt - with the exception of raising taxes.

"The only concrete proposal in the president's plan that he'll roll out today is his plan to raise taxes," Cantor told reporters. "And I find that very unacceptable given we're several days out from tax day in this country."

"We don't believe that raising taxes is the answer here," Cantor added.

House Speaker John Boehner called for taking "meaningful steps" toward lowering the nation's debt - but said raising taxes did not qualify.

"If we're going to resolve our differences and do something meaningful, raising taxes will not be part of that," he said. "We've got to take meaningful steps toward solving our long-term debt problem if in fact we're going to find the votes to increase the debt ceiling."

Boehner also stated his support for Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal

"I fully support Paul Ryan's budget - including his efforts on Medicare," Boehner said. "But I think all of us understand that not meeting our obligations - our debt obligations - is a very bad idea. And nobody wants to take that risk."

"It is time for us to get serious about the big challenges that face our country," he added.

When asked if Mr. Obama was open to anything other than a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling, Boehner said "yes."

In a statement on Wednesday, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) decried the Republicans' preemptive condemnation of Mr. Obama's plan.

"It's sad commentary on how dysfunctional Washington is that before the President says a word, Republican leaders race to the microphones to announce they won't even consider asking the wealthiest Americans and the richest corporations to share a penny more in the responsibility to tackle the debt and deficit that threaten our economy," he said.

"This is the same crew that doesn't blink an eye about making radical changes to Medicare and Medicaid that everyone acknowledges would cause pain to seniors, but they won't even let the president introduce his plan before they say new revenue is off limits," Kerry added. "Seniors have to do more with less but the people with the most get more? What happened to the notion that everything had to be on the table, let alone the American conviction that everyone shares responsibility for our country's future?"