House GOP says they're leading Obama to the right

House speaker John Boehner is the head of a Republican resurgence in American politics. In his brief tenure as Speaker, Boehner has led the charge for reducing spending, while also showing a willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints. CBS

House speaker John Boehner
From left to right, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
CBS

Liberal activists are complaining that President Obama is letting House Republicans lead him to the right -- and House Republicans agree.

Ahead of Mr. Obama's speech this afternoon in which he'll lay out his vision for deficit reduction, Republicans boasted that they're the ones leading and that the president is following.

"We continue to move this president places he never said he would go," House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy said to reporters today. "In the State of the Union the president sat out here and said we would freeze spending."

Instead, McCarthy said, "we have cut spending," referring to the 2011 budget deal recently agreed to, which makes a historic $38.5 billion in cuts over just the next six months.

"Our speaker negotiated, out numbered three-to-one" for that deal, he said.

Some Republicans and some Democrats are expected to reject the budget deal, but it's expected to pass in the House this week with bipartisan support.

After Republican leaders spoke with reporters this morning, they headed to the White House to meet with Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders to preview the president's deficit speech. In that meeting in the White House Cabinet Room, Mr. Obama sat in between House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Republicans this morning seemed to suggest the president would give more of his attention to Boehner.

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"I have been pushing the president for months to engage in this discussion about our long term fiscal mess," Boehner said. "I'm glad he's finally decided to engage in it."

Added House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "This speech is coming a full two months after the president's original budget proposal. This is vintage Obama. He's been standing on the sidelines expecting the rest of us to make the tough decisions to lead this country."

Mr. Obama's speech is, in fact, seen as a response to the GOP 2012 budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan. That budget, among other things, makes drastic changes to Medicare and lowers the top income tax rate. The president is expected to offer a plan that includes both ideas to rein in spending and raise taxes.

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The Medicare changes in Ryan's plan are considered to be the most contentious part of the budget proposal. The plan promises to cut $389 billion in Medicare expenses over 10 years, largely by indexing the growth of Medicare to inflation. And starting in 2022, seniors would no longer receive government-run health care -- they would get limited "premium support" to cover the cost of coverage from private insurers.

Boehner insisted today, "There's no privatizing Medicare [in Ryan's budget]. We're transforming Medicare so it will be there for the future."

Republicans are also pushing back against the president's anticipated call for some tax increases -- namely, to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthy.

"Most people understand that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem," Cantor said CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday. "We can't raise taxes. That was settled last November during the elections." (Watch below)

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