Talk Growth and Cuts, Not Just Taxes: GOP
Discussions over how to solve the U.S. fiscal imbalance have revolved primarily around raising taxes, yet entitlement reform and an emphasis on growth policies remain absent from the debate, Republican senators appearing on CNBC charged on Thursday.
As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner headed to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders over talks to steer the economy away from the "fiscal cliff", GOP senators took to the airwaves to put pressure on President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders to reveal what they might do aside from raising taxes.
Movement toward ending the stalemate "will start with the president showing us what his balanced plan is. He has to show us his balanced plan," said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who is a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
"We should be compromising on exactly how we reform our tax code," Johnson told CNBC's "Squawk Box" n Thursday. "Simplify it dramatically so we can recover the $200 billion to $300 billion in compliance costs and pro-growth tax reform where you lower marginal tax rates by broadening the base." (Read more:How the 'Fiscal Cliff' Could Hurt Married Couples.)
In a series of public rallies, President Obama has pressed his case for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Yet critics charge that the real issues behind the government's red ink drenched finances—namely, higher spending and entitlement reform—is being omitted from the debate.
"Republicans just don't want to raise tax rates. We want to find the monies the president would like to have elsewhere in the code and I think we can," Utah GOP senator Orrin Hatch told CNBC. "But we sure as heck need structural entitlement reform to get there.
The process needs presidential leadership, said Hatch, who became friends with Obama during his time in the Senate.
"I'm hoping my friend, Barack Obama, the president of the United States, will get off his duff and start leading because the Democrats will follow," Hatch added. "If he leads and the republicans win a position to say, yes, we'll cooperate and help save the country from the mess it's headed toward."
An internecine war has erupted amongst Republicans – who faltered in their bid to reclaim both the White House and Senate in the November general election – about raising taxes.
Key GOP legislators have appeared to waver on a pledge not to hike taxes, drawing ire from Grover Norquist, an influential opponent of higher taxes whose anti-tax "pledge" is now at the center of a brewing civil war amongst Republicans. (Read more: For Tax Pledge and Its Author, a Test of Time.)
"Do not send your money to Washington," said Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY), defending his own anti-tax pledge, and explaining why it's important lawmakers cut spending to the bone before even considering any increase in taxes. (See video)
"Why in the world would you talk about cutting spending before you find out how much you have to spend?" countered Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), in an appearance on CNBC's "Closing Bell.""Isn't this all about a revenue shortfall? The first thing we should do is find out how much money can raise. What is the gap? And what we can't do in terms of raising revenue we go to the cuts part."