Three of the top House Repubs took to the stage 90 minutes after President Obama’s big debt/deficit speech. They were shocked, saddened and disappointed.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chair of the Republican Conference (No. 4 on the Repub leadership ladder) said Obama had “given us a history lesson” on how the debt got so big “blaming everyone for the nation’s fiscal woes but himself.” Hensarling said Obama had “set a new standard for class warfare rhetoric.” He said Obama’s plan was not “designed to help America win the future but a plan designed to help the president win reelection.”
Obama’s ideas for restraining the growth of Medicare spending amount to “price controls and rationing on steroids.”
In the single snottiest remark of the event, Hensarling said his reaction after accepting Obama’s invitation to be present for the speech was “I missed lunch for this?”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia (No. 2 on leadership ladder) said that “raising taxes is not what we need right now, right now, two days before tax day, especially when we’re trying to get job creators back into the game.”
If you listen for it, you will notice that Republicans always say that this is not the time to be raising taxes on job creators, but their real position is that there is not now and never will be a time to consider such a move. Or, if I’m wrong about that, I would be quite interested to hear Cantor or any other high-ranking Repub describe the circumstances that would justify consideration of a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. During a boom? During an even bigger recession than the one we just experienced? If the budget was balanced? If the debt reaches $20 trillion? When?
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chair of the House Budget Committee and chief author of the Republican “roadmap” for dealing with the deficit, described himself as “disappoint in the president.” When Obama invited him to attend, he believed he would hear some kind of effort to reach across the aisle and find common ground. Instead of “fiscal leadership from our Commander-in-chief,” Ryan said, “what we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief.
“What we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country’s pressing fiscal challenges.”
“Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy and anxiety is not hope, it’s not change. It’s partisanship. We don’t need partisanship. We don’t need demagoguery. We need solutions.” Obama’s speech will “make it that much harder for the two parties to get together with mutual respect to get things done.”
Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the leader and chief enforcer of the movement to rule out tax increases, gave his reaction in a post on a Politico forum. It went:
“Obama is on the ropes.
“His 2012 budget plan was to continue the spending spree that cost his party the House of Representatives and their supermajority in the Senate. He hoped to argue that ‘freezing’ spending levels after his binge spending would be viewed as serious. Now his non-leadership stands next to Paul Ryan’s $6 trillion dollar spending reduction from Obama’s grotesque spending levels. He was planning to run on four more years of spending at 25 percent of GDP — up from the 20 percent of the past 40 years.
“Worse for the Democrats and Petain Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan has shown that serious, permanent, reform-driven spending reduction is possible, politically defensible and will be accompanied by pro-growth tax rate reductions rather than tax increases.
“Tax hikes are what lame politicians do when they don’t have the ability, smarts or grown up determination to govern. Tax hikes are what liberals do instead of cutting spending. In 1982 and 1990, Democrats promised 3- or 2-to-1 spending reductions in return for tax hikes. The tax hikes happened. Spending increased.
“This is Pinocchio once again misled by the Cat and Fox or Lucy playing Charlie Brown again and again. No grown-up Republican would fall for the Andrews Air Force Base trick again. Remember that the Trojan Horse thing worked against Troy. One time. The Greeks were, oddly enough, not able to repeat this ploy against other cities.
“The Competent Republican Caucus sees Obama’s ploy to raise taxes to pay for his overspending coming from a mile away.”
I also happened to catch Michele Bachmann’s reaction on the Glenn Beck program on Fox. She said of Obama that “no one takes him seriously” when he says he will not extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. She said Obama is “committed to class warfare” and “has something [against] businesses.”