Republicans come out firing against Obama deficit plan

Rep. Paul Ryan, R - Wisc.
UPDATED 12:33 p.m. ET
Ryan: Medicare is going bankrupt
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)

Even before President Obama unveiled his $3 trillion proposal to cut the deficit with $1.5 trillion in tax hikes for the rich, Republicans on Capitol Hill were declaring it dead, with a key lawmaker labelling it "class warfare."

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who earlier this year had unveiled his own budget blueprint which famously proposed turning Medicare into a voucher system, said Mr. Obama is too focused on his own re-election.

"He's in a political class warfare mode and campaign mode. And that's not good for our economy," Ryan said on Fox News Sunday.

In an effort to draw a line in the sand with Republicans, Mr. Obama proposed a long-term deficit reduction plan that is halfway composed of new tax revenues for the highest earning Americans.

The millionaire's tax is modeled on a proposal from billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has long suggested the super-rich should pay higher tax rates. The plan also includes almost $250 billion in reductions in Medicare spending, $330 billion in cuts in other mandatory benefit programs, and savings of $1 trillion from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell lambasted Buffett's suggestion for higher taxes.

"If he's feeling guilty about it I think he should send in a check ... But we don't want to stagnate this economy by raising taxes," McConnell said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

The plan sets up another showdown with House Speaker John Boehner, who last week gave a high-profile speech in which he ruled out raising taxes on anybody--including millionaires.

"It's a very simple equation" Boehner said in his speech to the Economic Club of Washington. "Tax increases destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country."

On Monday, Boehner echoed the class warfare theme.

"Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership,' Boehner said in a written statement.

"This administration's insistence on raising taxes on job creators and its reluctance to take the steps necessary to strengthen our entitlement programs are the reasons the president and I were not able to reach an agreement previously, and it is evident today that these barriers remain," he added.

Mr. Obama said insisting on higher taxes for some Americans is not class warfare, it's math.

"The money has to come from some place," Mr. Obama said in the White House Rose Garden, "if we're not willing to ask those who've done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit... the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more, we've got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor."

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter» Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.