House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., agreed with Obama’s proposal to replace the sequester over the coming months with a balanced package of spending cuts and revenues. “We must take all reasonable steps to avoid the sequester because of its potentially harmful effects on the fragile economy,” he said in a statement. “The Republicans are irresponsibly opening their arms to the sequester, pursuing unyielding opposition to balanced deficit reduction regardless of how much that intransigence hurts the economy. The damaging economic impact of Republicans’ refusal to consider any additional revenue is a price they seem all too willing to let the American people pay.”
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Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the solution needed to come in the form of spending cuts, although he agreed that the across-the-board spending cuts in the sequester were not the best solution. “The details of the sequester are less than ideal, and spending cuts ought to be made in a way that shows good management, but the sequester is the law, and the White House and the Senate have failed to work on an alternative month after month,” he said in a statement. “The pile of cans that have been kicked down the road under the watch of the President and the Senate Majority Leader would be worth a lot of money in Iowa, where you get five cents for every can you turn in. There’s nothing funny, though, about the fact that both short- and long-term spending problems are being virtually ignored by the President, even when it’s so obvious the harm it does to future generations and to getting the economy turned around so we can create jobs today. Even so, the President is asking for more tax increases in place of spending reductions. The grassroots knows that spending is the problem. The reality is you can’t raise taxes high enough to fix the budget impact of the entitlement programs. And, Washington failing to address fiscal problems works against the certainty and confidence needed to build a stronger economy.”
Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., disagreed with Obama’s approach to tax reform. “President Obama is right that targeted spending cuts are a better way to reduce the deficit than across-the-board cuts,” he said in a statement. “I’m relieved he disagrees with some on his side who say cutting any spending, including wasteful spending, is austerity. However, I’m disappointed the President today attempted to unilaterally change the terms of the debate on tax reform. Tax reform does not mean closing loopholes to solely pay down the deficit. Tax reform means closing loopholes to primarily lower rates for working families in order to promote economic growth, which has the effect of increasing tax revenues for the federal government. That is the balanced approach embraced by conservatives and liberals on his own Simpson-Bowles debt commission, and that understanding was the basis of President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill’s historic tax reform deal in 1986. The balanced tax reform proposal in Simpson-Bowles proposed to use the savings from eliminating loopholes and breaks for the wealthy by primarily reducing tax rates for lower income families from 15 percent to as low as 8 percent. The President’s statement today suggests lower income families should keep paying higher rates. Ironically, the very tax earmarks the administration slipped into the fiscal cliff deal for special interests such as Hollywood movie producers, the wind industry and NASCAR, kept rates artificially high for lower income and middle class families. That’s not economic justice, and that’s a terrible way to grow our economy.”