Weekly Columns

If the President Expects Compromise, He Must Set the Table for Negotiation

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Washington, December 5, 2012 | comments

It’s past time for President Obama to offer concrete, realistic solutions to our nation’s fiscal crisis and to prevent the tax increases and arbitrary spending cuts set to go into effect on January 1, known as the fiscal cliff. While the president continues to reject serious proposals from Republican leaders, his own plan is merely talking points aimed at appeasing Americans who believe the root cause of our nation’s fiscal situation is an addiction to spending.  If the president believes that eliminating wasteful Washington spending is necessary, it’s time for him to show us where he would do it.

The president preaches compromise, but won’t give any proposal from Republicans consideration. For example, the House-passed budget plan would enact reforms to Medicare that ensure there is greater support for the poor and sick and less for the wealthy beneficiaries. These reforms can be made without affecting those currently on, or those about to be on, Medicare. They would protect Medicare and preserve it for future generations, ensuring everyone that has paid in gets their fair share of benefit from the program.

The plan would also give states flexibility to choose what works best for Medicaid in their states. In Tennessee, we’ve learned the lessons of failed Medicaid expansions through TennCare, and the Republican budget plan would ensure that Governors have the flexibility to run their states’ health care as they see fit.

Additionally, this plan would cut billions in spending in a responsible, yet meaningful way; all while ensuring taxes aren’t raised. The House Republican budget is just one of many plans the Republicans have put forth to cut spending and address our deficit.

The House Republicans’ latest plan to avert the fiscal cliff would save $2.2 trillion, an increase from the president’s plan.

The White House’s fiscal cliff plan, by contrast, calls for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes—twice the amount the president called for initially. The administration claims that the proposal contains $2.50 for each dollar spent, but only by using budget gimmickry that double counts the spending reductions already required by law as new savings. If Republicans were to count the savings already required by law as the president does, the House plan would save $4.6 trillion. 

Worse, the White House plan calls for a new stimulus. The president already spent over $1 trillion on his failed stimulus with nothing to show for it—that is a mistake we cannot afford to make twice.

We must avert the fiscal cliff and to do so, both sides must come together and compromise so that hard-working American families don’t ring in the New Year with a tax increase of more than $2,200. President Obama’s version of compromise, however, is that Republicans just give in and go along with massive tax hikes and more reckless spending. We can’t allow that to happen, and I will continue working to ensure that the deal we reach lays the groundwork for future economic growth and job creation.

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