Obama: Republicans' Refusal to Raise Taxes on the Wealthy Is What 'Binds Their Party Together'

By Susan Jones | February 22, 2013 | 7:31 AM EST

President Barack Obama speaks about the sequester, accompanied by emergency responders, at the White House complex on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama continues to portray Republicans as protectors of the wealthy, without drawing much dissent from the GOP.

"Well, my sense is that their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations," Obama said Thursday on Al Sharpton's radio program.

"And they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes. And that's the thing that binds their party together at this point. This is a major argument, obviously, we've been having for the last three years."

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Obama told Sharpton that 75 percent of the American people agree with him that the best way to reduce the deficit is through a combination of spending cuts and "tax revenue." "If we spread that out over several years, it wouldn't have a bad effect on our economy," the president said.

But Republicans say Congress raised tax rates on the wealthy just last month, and they refuse to close loopholes so Obama has even more money to spend. "Spending is the problem and spending must be the focus" of deficit reduction, House Speaker John Boehner said earlier this week.

But Obama is equally insistent: "Unfortunately, I think Republicans, right now, have been so dug in on this notion of never raising taxes that it becomes difficult for them to see an obvious answer right in front of them," he told Sharpton.

Obama also warned that sequestration will have "significant impacts." "Whether or not we can move Republicans at this point to do the right thing is what we're still trying to gauge," he said.

Republican leaders had no immediate response to Obama's suggestion that Republicans are united in their view "that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations" -- even if that means indiscriminate spending reductions under sequestration.

"Instead of more tax hikes that are bad #4jobs, we need to #cutwaste like $4M spent on IRS recording studio," Boehner tweeted on Thursday.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released a statement saying President Obama is offering the American people "false choices":

“President Obama has said that unless he gets a second tax hike in eight weeks, he will be forced to let criminals loose on the streets, the meat at your grocery store won’t be inspected and emergency responders will be unable to do their jobs. These are false choices," Cantor said. "We are faced with the negative effects of the sequester because Democrats have not been able to take even the smallest step towards controlling spending. The President called for a balanced approach to the fiscal cliff, and yet the outcome was all tax increases.

“After four years of record-setting deficits and mountains of debt heaped onto our children and grandchildren, it’s time for smart choices that cut Washington spending and achieve real balance. Working families across this country deserve better than Washington taking more of their money, or threatening their jobs because we cannot make even the tiniest cuts to government spending."