(CNSNews.com) – Barely an hour after President Barack Obama spoke at a prayer breakfast about humility in bridging divisive political debates, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney used populist rhetoric to describe Republican ideas for spending cuts to harm children and the elderly and helping corporations.
Obama and Congress are negotiating how to avoid a sequester, or automatic across the board spending cuts that take place on March 1. Carney called reports of Republican ideas “terrible.”
“It’s a series of measures that says seniors, middle class families, disabled kids and others will solely bear the burden in buying down the sequester while the wealthiest get held harmless,” Carney told reporters Thursday. “I don’t know where Republicans have been of late, but that is not a winning approach that the American people support, and it is not an approach that this president will accept. We need balance.”
Politico reported Wednesday that GOP House members were considering several measures to reduce spending that must be agreed to in order to avoid the sequester that includes changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
“It is not acceptable to say, seniors, the bill is in the mail, bail us out, but those who enjoy the benefit of a loophole for their corporate jet or get subsidies for their large and profitable oil and gas company, we’re not going to ask anything of you, but senior citizen in her 70s, on a fixed income, who depends on Medicare, or a senior citizen at 65, you’re going to pay the bill,” Carney continued.
“That’s what apparently House Republicans are saying. We’ve heard that before, and the American public said no thank you. We can make tough choices, but we have to do it in a way that is balanced and fair for everybody,” he said.
These proposals reportedly include upping the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 to save $110 billion; changes to Medicare premiums to save $35 billion; reforming federal pensions to save up to $35 billion, a change to measuring the consumer price index to determine how government benefits are calculated; reforming farm subsidies to save $25 billion; and tax reform that would reducing funding to the Internal Revenue Service by $20 billion.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that taxes were already increased in the New Year’s deal to avoid to the fiscal cliff.
“Listen, the American people believe that the tax question has been settled. They know the president called for a ‘balanced’ approach to the debt – a combination of revenues and spending cuts. And they know he’s gotten his revenue,” Boehner told reporters.
“The American people do not believe the president will use further tax revenues to lower the debt. After having seen this president attempt to spend his way into prosperity over the last four years, they know he’ll spend it,” Boehner added.
Before the Carney press conference, at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning, Obama said political divisions today are not as severe as those of the days of President Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., but he said the divisions are real.
“In the midst of all these debates, we must keep that same humility that Dr. King and Lincoln and Washington and all our great leaders understood is at the core of true leadership,” Obama said.
“In a democracy as big and as diverse as ours, we will encounter every opinion, and our task as citizens – whether we are leaders in government or business or spreading the word – is to spend our days with open hearts and open minds; to seek out the truth that exists in an opposing view and to find the common ground that allows for us as a nation, as a people, to take real and meaningful action,” Obama added.
“And we have to do that humbly, for no one can know the full and encompassing mind of God, and we have to do it every day, not just at a prayer breakfast,” he said.