WASHINGTON - Leading congressional Republicans renewed their vehement opposition to tax increases Wednesday, as President Barack Obama prepared to put forth his new prescription for slow growth and national indebtedness.
"Most people understand that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said on "The Early Show" Wednesday. "We can't raise taxes. That was settled last November during the elections."
Cantor acknowledged "we cannot fix our fiscal crisis and bring down the debt just through cuts alone" but said spending must be the priority.
"Everyone understands that Washington has been on a spending binge of late and we've got to start spending money the way taxpayers are right now and that's learning how to do more with less," he said.
Joining Cantor in appearing on morning network news programs, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, also ruled out tax increases, saying the country needs tax "reform," not tax hikes.
The GOP figures made the rounds of news shows ahead of Mr. Obama's speech Wednesday afternoon outlining his latest ideas for combating mounting federal deficits and for coping with slow economic growth and lingering high unemployment.
Intense bargaining over the last two weeks that allowed Mr. Obama and House Republicans to avert a partial government shutdown over budget differences merely primed the pump for an even more intense, and more protracted, national budget debate in the coming weeks. It's a discussion that will be complicated by the need soon to raise the government's debt limit to avoid default.
Cantor said the president has thus far "missed the opportunity" to tackle the deficit, but both he and Ryan said they were pleased that Mr. Obama has engaged the debate.
"I'm looking forward to telling him, 'Look, we want to work with you. We've got problems and they were caused by both sides. We want to come together, we want to work with you to try and fix this debt problem and get the economy back on track so more people can get back to work,'" Cantor said.
Tea party-backed Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said she, too, believes tax increases should be ruled out.
"I don't think it should be on the table because tax rates are high enough already," she said.
Ryan was interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and Bachmann commented on NBC's "Today" program.