Republicans criticized President Obama's call today for a short-term deficit reduction package of spending cuts and tax revenue to postpone the deep automatic cuts known as sequestration that would begin the first week of March if a deficit cutting deal is not reached.
Though the president did offer not any specifics as he urged Congress to take action to postpone the automatic cuts for several months, Republicans said Obama wants to raise taxes, which they said is "the last thing America needs."
The automatic cuts could lead to widespread layoffs and would indiscriminately slash $1.2 trillion in domestic and defense spending over the next decade.
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Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte released an official statement on President Obama's remarks on budget sequestration, saying that Obama has failed to address the issue for more than a year and promising to introduce their own piece of legislation that will not increase taxes, as Obama's plan would.
"This past weekend, President Obama's own Secretary of Defense said the budget cuts looming under sequestration will 'weaken the United States' and 'make it much more difficult for us to respond to crises in the world.' The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that 'we will become less safe' if these cuts go through," the statement said.
"While the President last year promised that sequestration 'will not happen,' he has declined to address this looming crisis for more than a year. We appreciate that the President now wants to come to the negotiating table and we will examine his proposal closely.
"Every time we have a crisis in this country, President Obama's solution is to raise taxes," the statement said. "With the economy still struggling and job growth very weak, the last thing America needs is a tax increase."
Other Republicans used less official forums to speak out against the president's proposal. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania tweeted, "Sorry Mr Obama. No more tax hikes for more govt spending. Need to keep our word to the people & spending cuts you signed into law #sequester"
Though Republicans doubt the president's approach, Obama said that this year the economy is "poised for progress" and that lawmakers should get on board with this plan to avoid fiscal crisis.
The sequester was designed in 2011 to force Congress and the White House to agree to significant, long-term deficit reduction over the next 10 years. While lawmakers have agreed to $2.5 trillion in deficit savings, more progress is needed.