GOP Hopefuls Slam Obama's Debt Speech

Tuesday, 26 Jul 2011 11:36 AM

By Dan Weil

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Many Republicans didn’t appreciate President Barack Obama’s speech Monday night that put the blame on GOP congressmen for the stalemate of negotiations over the debt limit and deficit reduction. And you can count the Republican presidential hopefuls among those who are upset with Obama.

Frontrunner Mitt Romney wrote on Twitter after the address, “An historic failure of leadership from @BarackObama, not even @SenatorReid is still talking about tax increases.”

To be sure, the implication there is a little off base. Obama voiced support for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to lift the $14.3 trillion without increasing taxes at the same time. The president’s idea would be to raise taxes as part of a deficit reduction accord.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, the House Tea Party Caucus chairwoman who has established herself as the most popular alternative to Romney in recent polls, has harsh words for the president’s stand.

"Shame on President Obama for casting the American people aside as collateral damage, as he continues his political gamesmanship with the national debt crisis,” she said in a statement. “The problem with the president's plan is that he's operating from the wrong assumption -- that we need to increase the debt limit to pay for increased spending.”

Americans understand perfectly well what’s at stake in the debt debate, Bachmann said. “It’s the President who doesn’t grasp the magnitude of our national debt,” she maintains. “He compares it to ‘a little credit card debt’ when, in fact, our ‘national credit cards’ are maxed out.”

Obama isn’t listening to ordinary Americans, Bachmann said. “Not one person in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina has told me that we need a ‘balanced approach,’ which, of course, is code for higher taxes and spending,” she explained.

Ex-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is having trouble gaining traction with his campaign, said in a statement that Obama "is lecturing the country instead of leading it.”

Like the others, Pawlenty didn’t pull any verbal punches. “He [the president] has presided over the largest and most irresponsible run up of debt in our nation's history, and he now threatens to preside over the first default in U.S. history,” Pawlenty charges.

“Once again, President Obama did not have the courage to offer real solutions to fix runaway debt. Where is his plan to fix Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? Tonight's speech was all rhetoric and no results, and is another reason why President Obama needs to be removed from office."

Before Obama’s speech even began, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who like Pawlenty hasn’t galvanized much grassroots support yet, backed the debt limit proposal offered by House Speaker John Boehner.

That plan “is a good first step to deal with our national debt and is in line with the principles I have laid out since the beginning of this debate: cuts commensurate with any increase in the debt ceiling, tangible steps towards a balanced budget amendment, and no tax increases,” Obama’s former ambassador to China said.

“President Obama should sign on to this plan instead of demanding over $1 trillion in tax hikes and a politically convenient timetable.”

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