The White House Sunday slammed Republican plans to cut taxes for wealthy Americans as a recycled failed policy, while sparring lawmakers vowed a vote on the hot-button issue before the tax cuts expire in December.
"When you look at that 'Pledge to America,' it is a complete echo of what was done before," David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, told ABC television's "This Week" program, referring to the Republican campaign manifesto laid out on Thursday, six weeks before key legislative elections.
"It would borrow 700 billion dollars to cut taxes for the very wealthy, add trillions of dollars to the deficits," and slash spending on education by 20 percent.
"This isn't a prescription for economic growth; this is a prescription for surrender," Axelrod said. "We can't do that."
Obama himself on Saturday blasted what he called "worn-out" Republican plans to regain control of Congress in the upcoming elections, warning they would lead to another "disastrous decade."
In their manifesto, Republicans vowed to stop "job-killing tax hikes," cut government spending, end bail-outs and repeal health care reforms, laying out a vision aimed at winning over independent voters and energizing the party base.
Obama warned these measures are "grounded in the same worn-out philosophy: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself."
Senate Majority whip Dick Durbin allowed on CNN that his and Obama's Democrats "could have done some things better."
But Durbin insisted the Republican plan to extend tax cuts for the wealthy, passed during George W. Bush's presidency and set to expire on December 31, would herald economic disaster.
Without Obama's economic team "we would have been in a deeper recession, maybe even a depression," Durbin said. "They just proudly announced they want to return to that."
House majority leader Steny Hoyer told Fox News Sunday that "we are for making sure that the middle class Americans do not get a tax increase."
Hoyer said that the Democrats' plan, which was snagged in a Republican legislative blocking maneuver known as a filibuster, will move forward.
Democratic lawmakers have attacked Republicans for "hijacking" tax breaks for the middle class in order to try and secure extended tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
"Democrats have absolutely pledged, and we'll make sure that, before the end of this year the Republican increase in middle-income taxes will not go into effect, the Republican bill that phased out this year," Hoyer said.
But the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, was adamant about the need for his party's plans.
"If we leave here this week and adjourn before the election without preventing tax increases on the American people it would be the most irresponsible thing I've seen since I've been in Washington DC, and I've been here a while," Boehner said.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell argued that the Republican tax cuts for the wealthiest would yield needed jobs.
"This has been the tax rate for a decade. We're talking about raising taxes in the middle of a recession," McConnell said on ABC. "And most economists think that's the worst thing you could do. The president himself was saying that was the worst thing you could do a year and a half ago."
Independent Senator Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats, told CNN he expected Congress would "permanently" extend the middle-class tax cuts.
"And we will agree to extend the tax cuts on high-income earners for at least a year or two," he added.
Ahead of the November 2 vote, Republicans have been making significant gains, while Obama and other Democrats have suffered in the polls amid a grim economic outlook and an unemployment rate that has stubbornly hovered around 10 percent for months.
© AFP 2016