The White House on Thursday issued a statement saying it views this summer's debt deal as a discretionary spending floor and that it opposes any effort to cut funding beneath that level.
In a statement opposing Republicans' version of legislation to extend the payroll tax cut the White House said the GOP's bill would require further cuts to domestic spending, which amounted to "breaking the bipartisan deal achieved under the Budget Control Act."
"The additional spending cuts under [the GOP's bill] would mean further reductions in areas like education and energy, reducing core government functions ranging from services for this nation's veterans to border security, and further cutting back spending on the Nation's defense," the White House said in its statement of policy.
Republicans, though, said they had a different understanding of the deal reached this summer, which set discretionary spending levels for 2012 and 2013, and suggested levels for the remainder of the decade.
"It was not our understanding that we could never cut another dollar from the bloated federal government," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
Republicans said their bill uses cuts suggested by President Obama's 2010 fiscal commission, led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, to cover the lost revenue from extending this year's 2 percent payroll tax cut into next year. Among those cuts are freezing federal workers' salaries and cutting the federal workforce through attrition.
Democrats, though, have said federal workers should not face the brunt of cuts.
Republicans' proposal would only extend last year's payroll tax cut, while Senate Democrats' proposal would expand it to 3.1 percent, and give businesses a cut as well. That would boost the average family's tax cut from nearly $1,000 to about $1,500.
Democrats' legislation makes up the lost Social Security revenue by imposing a new surtax on those with million-dollar incomes, and transfer that money to the Social Security fund.
"On one side, you have Democrats fighting to cut taxes for 160 million Americans who each make an average of less than $30,000 a year. On the other side, you have Republicans fighting to keep taxes low for fewer than 350,000 people who each take home about $3 million every year," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.
The White House released a statement Thursday backing Senate Democrats' bill.
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Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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