The Washington Times - February 5, 2013, 02:08PM

The House’s No. 2 Democrat pushed back at Republican complaints that President Obama’s policies have lead to a ballooning of the federal debt and deficit, saying that spending initiatives are the responsibility of Congress — not the White House.

“This is a party that is alleging that this deficit is caused by the president. That’s wrong,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday during his weekly briefing with reporters. “The president can spend no money, incur no debt that the Congress has not approved. Period.”

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The Maryland lawmaker accused House Republicans of hypocrisy for chastising Mr. Obama for failing to come up with a budget blueprint by Monday’s deadline, saying that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan last year wouldn’t have balanced the budget for 20 years.

“For them to direct the president to do something that they haven’t done I think is hypocritical and patently for politically messaging purposes,” he said. “We ought to be beyond that. The election is behind us. Obama won. They need to come to grips with that, and we need to come to an agreement — a bipartisan agreement — how to get this country on a fiscally sustainable path.”

On the $85 billion across-the-board automatic “sequester” cuts scheduled to kick in March 1, Mr. Hoyer said a growing sentiment within Republican ranks to let the cuts kick in — a move financial experts say would hurt the economy — is foolhardy and puts the nation’s financial security at great risk.

“The sequester going into effect is bad policy. It is, however, policy that the Republicans are willing to accept,” he said. “If the sequester goes into effect it will be …. solely the responsibility of Republicans.”

He added that while the cuts aren’t inevitable,”I don’t think anybody can be confident right now” they will be avoided.