WASHINGTON -- House Republicans said President Obama was using the nation’s armed forces as a “campaign prop” when he should be working with his party’s leaders in the Senate to avoid across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect this week.
Notably, House Speaker John A. Boehner and other party leaders were not asking for direct talks with the president, claiming they had already done their part with votes in the previous Congress on an alternative to the so-called sequester cuts.
On the eve of a planned Obama visit to a shipbuilding facility in Newport News, Va., Boehner said the president seemed “far more interested in holding campaign rallies than he is in urging his Senate Democrats to actually pass a plan.”
“Instead of using our military men and women as campaign props, if the president was serious, he'd sit down with Harry Reid and begin to address our problems,” Boehner told reporters.
The Senate does plan to vote this week on competing plans from Democrats and Republicans that would replace the looming $85 billion in cuts, either with alternative spending reductions or a mixture of cuts and new revenues.
House Republicans point to two separate votes in 2012 on their own alternative to argue they have done their part. But any legislation they passed in the previous Congress is no longer active.
Now the leaders are even downplaying the idea that the cuts would have the kind of devastating impact the Obama administration has been warning about. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Obama was offering a “false choice” between doomsday scenarios or higher taxes.
“There is a smarter and better way to go about trying to achieve the reductions in spending,” Cantor said. “In the House, we even included measures that the president has proposed in his own budget, but yet the president won't support even his own measures unless there's a tax increase.
“So the president really ought to stop campaigning and come back to the table and work with us,” he said.
Earlier Monday, Obama said the problem was that House Republicans viewed compromise as “a bad word.”
“They figure they’ll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism,” he said, urging visiting governors to speak with their respective congressional delegations “and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk.”