WASHINGTON -- Leading congressional Republicans renewed their vehement opposition to tax increases Wednesday, as President Barack Obama prepared to put forth his new prescription for slow growth and national indebtedness.
"Most people understand that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. "We can't raise taxes. ... That was settled last November during the elections."
Joining Cantor in appearing on morning network news programs, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, also ruled out tax increases, saying the country needs tax "reform," not tax hikes.
The GOP figures made the rounds of news shows ahead of Obama's speech Wednesday afternoon outlining his latest ideas for combating mounting federal deficits and for coping with slow economic growth and lingering high unemployment.
Intense bargaining over the last two weeks that allowed Obama and House Republicans to avert a partial government shutdown over budget differences merely primed the pump for an even more intense, and more protracted, national budget debate in the coming weeks. It's a discussion that will be complicated by the need soon to raise the government's debt limit to avoid default.
Cantor said, "We cannot fix our fiscal crisis and bring down the debt just with cuts alone. Washington has been on a spending spree of late." But both he and Ryan said they were pleased that Obama has engaged the debate.
"The president hasn't even engaged in negotiations," Ryan said, "so I'm glad he's starting this conversation. ... We don't have a problem because Americans don't pay enough taxes."
Tea party-backed Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said she, too, believes tax increases should be ruled out.
"I don't think it should be on the table because tax rates are high enough already," she said.
Cantor appeared on CBS's "The Early Show." Ryan was interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and Bachmann commented on NBC's "Today" program.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that House Speaker John Boehner called the idea of raising taxes "unacceptable and a nonstarter."
"We don't have deficits because Americans are taxed too little, we have deficits because Washington spends too much," said Boehner in a statement, according to the Times. "And, at a time when the American people face skyrocketing prices at the pump, energy tax hikes are a particularly bad idea."
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