Obama, GOP gear up for more fiscal battles


LOS ANGELES — Fresh from their bruising battle over the fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama and Republican House leaders picked up the rhetoric right where they left off Saturday, trading broadsides over how to further deal with the nation’s crushing debt.

While both Obama and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., agreed that spending cuts are on the horizon, each blamed the other for the extended face-off that only was resolved with a last-minute deal.

“We still need to do more to put Americans back to work while also putting this country on a path to pay down its debt. And our economy can’t afford more protracted showdowns or manufactured crises along the way,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

The president added that “the messy brinksmanship in Congress made business owners more uncertain and consumers less confident.”

Camp, meanwhile, pointed the finger at Democrats for not getting spending under control.

“Throughout the fiscal cliff discussions, the president and the Democrats who control Washington repeatedly refused to take any meaningful steps to make Washington live within its means,” Camp said in his response to Obama’s address.

“That position is irresponsible and fails to acknowledge what every family in America already knows — when you have no more money in your account and your credit cards are maxed out, then the spending must stop,” Camp added.

Lawmakers raised the effective tax rate on single Americans making more than $400,000 a year and couples with income of $450,000 or more. The agreement came after months of wrangling that, had it not been resolved, could have raised taxes for most Americans.

But Democrats and Republicans failed to achieve a grand bargain designed to reduce the more than $16 trillion in debt that is pushing against the nation’s limits.

Just how to achieve spending cuts promises to be full of more finger-pointing and accusations. Camp and Obama indicated as much in their weekly addresses, with the Republican emphasizing a simpler tax code.

“Let’s face it: the IRS tax code is still a nightmare. It is too complex, too costly and too unfair. There is something fundamentally wrong when roughly 60 percent of hardworking taxpayers have to hire a professional just to do their taxes. You shouldn’t need an army of lawyers and accountants to understand our tax code,” Camp said.

Camp called for an end to what he called “special-interest loopholes,” saying “Your tax rate should be determined by what’s fair, not who you know in Washington.”

Obama did say that reforming the tax code was on his agenda, though it may not be what Republicans have in mind when the two sides go toe-to-toe again over the next two months.

“I believe we can find more places to cut spending without shortchanging things like education, job training, research and technology, all which are critical to our prosperity in a 21st century economy,” Obama said.

“But spending cuts must be balanced with more reforms to our tax code,” Obama went on to say. “The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn’t be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.”