Rep. Price: ‘We Can’t Negotiate with a Speech’

Image: Rep. Price: ‘We Can’t Negotiate with a Speech’ Rep. Tom Price believes it will be difficult to avoid automatic spending cuts. (Getty Images)

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 08:03 PM

By David Yonkman, Newsmax Washington Correspondent

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Rep. Tom Price tells Newsmax that it will be difficult for House Republicans to find common ground with President Obama and the Senate on avoiding automatic spending cuts so long as they fail to offer any legislative alternative.

“We can’t negotiate a piece of legislation we have passed with a speech,” the Georgia Republican and member of the House Budget Committee said of the president’s remarks on Tuesday.

He and other members of Congress noted that the House has twice passed bills to address the issue, but the president and Democratic Senate have not yet offered anything specific.

Obama urged Congress to postpone the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, scheduled to begin March 1 to avoid “real and lasting impacts” on U.S. economic growth.

He said that lawmakers should act on a smaller package of spending cuts and changes to the tax code that would increase revenue, such as limiting tax breaks, to replace part of the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board reductions.

The president’s remarks were met with immediate skepticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“The president’s recycled demand today for higher taxes is not a plan, but merely more deceptive rhetoric that cannot withstand the scrutiny of basic math,” Tennessee GOP Rep. Diane Black told Newsmax.

The March 1 deadline marks another fiscal showdown between the administration and House Republicans. Republican leaders have said they expect the spending cuts to take effect, partly because they won’t agree to new revenue measures that Obama and some other Democrats have said they want.

“The President’s proposal is nothing more than another tax hike to pay for more Washington spending,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan said in a statement. “That is not what America needs.”

Congress created the automatic cuts in August 2011 as part of an agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. They were scheduled to begin in January, though Congress delayed them for two months in a Jan. 1 measure that let tax rates rise on top earners’ income.

Democrats are debating alternatives for replacing the spending cuts during a closed-door retreat today in Annapolis, Md. Senate leaders including Patty Murray of Washington, chairwoman of the Budget Committee, and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland will address lawmakers on fiscal issues.

There is no agreement on what options Democrats will choose or how big the plan should be, said two Democratic aides, who sought anonymity to discuss the private talks.

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