Taxpayer Advocacy Group Tells Obama to 'Put Up or Shut Up' on Spending Cuts

By Susan Jones | July 13, 2011 | 7:35 AM EDT

President Barack Obama talks about the ongoing budget negotiations, Monday, July 11, 2011, in the briefing room of the White House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

( - While Americans for Tax Reform has not endorsed an particular debt limit plan, it does endorse Sen. Mitch McConnell's objective of forcing President Obama to put his “imaginary spending cuts” in writing.

“The onus is now on the President to admit to the American people he has no plan to cut spending – put up or shut up,” the group said in a news release.

But another anti-tax group, FreedomWorks, accused McConnell of "wimping out when it actually matters."

On Tuesday, McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a "contingency" plan that would require the president to submit, along with a request for $700 billion in more borrowing authority, a package of spending cuts of the same or greater value.

McConnell's goal, Americans for Tax Reform said, "is to make President Obama own up to the lie he's been telling taxpayers for the past two years: he has no specific plan to cut spending. Congressional Democrats will have to admit the jig is up for them as well."

ATR says that until now, Obama has been allowed to offer unspecified "reasonable" tax increases in exchange for spending cut promises. "The problem, which we have detailed at length, is that no tax hike policy could ever solve what is a spending problem." And Obama, up to this point, "didn't have to disclose what imaginary spending cuts he was so reasonably prepared to accept."

ATR says it is pushing for a debt-limit deal that contains significant, real spending cuts and absolutely no tax increases.

"Leader McConnell has put forth a plan that attempts to put this goal in motion. ATR looks forward to reviewing other strategies that could also achieve this goal.”

Thumbs down on McConnell plan

Republicans should stand strong and refuse to give any power back to the Democrats, as McConnell's plan would do, the tea party group FreedomWorks said in a message on its Web site.

“If Sen. McConnell thinks cutting spending is too hard, maybe he should listen to the tea party grassroots that sent 87 additional Republicans to Congress last year," said FreedomWorks Vice President Dean Clancy.

"We don’t think it’s too hard to figure out how to cut spending.  We want to see real cuts, spending caps with teeth, and a Balanced Budget Amendment.  We’ll be encouraging our million-plus members to help Sen. McConnell find his spine. We are publishing his phone number and urging everyone to call it," Clancy added.

FreedomWorks wants McConnell to support a "Cut, Cap and Balance" approach to the debt ceiling fight. "Handing the bargaining power back to President Obama is the wrong move," it said. 

McConnell's "last resort" plan, in his own words:

“If the White House continues to insist on either tax hikes or default, then we’d send legislation to the President that requires him to propose spending cuts greater than the debt limit increase he requests. Make the president show in black and white the specific cuts he claims to support. If he refuses, he’ll have to raise the debt limit on his own.

“But he’s not going to get Republicans to go along with it. That way the President can’t pretend to support cuts when he doesn’t. He’s forced to put up." 

McConnell said the idea of not doing "something serious" about the debt before August "sickens me." 

“Like most Americans, I previously didn’t believe anyone in this country could seriously deny the need to rein in government spending. Like most Americans, I previously didn’t believe anyone could be so short-sighted as to propose massive tax hikes in a weakened economy. Like all of you, I didn’t think even the most liberal amongst us would go to such lengths to protect the expansion of government. 

“I’m sorry to report there are people who believe all of those things, and they currently reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

McConnell said Republicans will refused to let the president use the threat of a debt-limit deadline "to get us to cave on tax increases or on phony spending cuts that future Congresses could just as easily reverse with a single voice."

He said a Balanced Budget Amendment is the only way to ensure that Washington gets its house in order, and forces future Congresses to live within their means.