The Washington Times - December 1, 2012, 06:12AM

Sen. Orrin Hatch labeled President Obama’s proposal to avert the looming fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts “a classic bait and switch on the American people,” saying Mr. Obama and others on the left have shown “an utter lack of leadership” to tackle reform to the country’s entitlement programs the Utah Republican says must be part of a deal to work toward curing the nation’s financial ills.

Mr. Hatch, in the weekly Republican address, derided the White House’s proposal to increase taxes by $1.6 trillion, add billions in new stimulus spending and do away with the country’s debt ceiling as an “unserious plan,” and said Americans want Washington to work together to put the country back on track.


“Fresh off his re-election, the president has an obligation to first steer us away from the fiscal cliff, and second, to tackle our $16-plus trillion debt, that is driven by our runaway entitlement programs, so our country doesn’t reach this dangerous crossroads ever again,” Mr. Hatch said. “Make no mistake about it — shoring up Medicare and Medicaid will not be easy. But the situation has become so severe that it is the only responsible course to take.

“Unfortunately, some on the other side of the aisle are advocating a disastrous ‘Thelma and Louise’ strategy that would take us over the cliff, putting millions of middle-class families, small businesses and our already weak economy in further jeopardy,” he continued.

Mr. Hatch argued that if the top two marginal tax rates are increased, nearly a million businesses and 700,000 jobs would be at risk. The White House thus far has not budged publicly from Mr. Obama’s plan to let the top rate increase from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, where it was during President Clinton’s administration.

“We should not raise these taxes, but we should enact comprehensive tax reform that will generate more revenue, create jobs and increase our GDP by as much as 3.5 percent,” Mr. Hatch said. “We should find a solution to ensure the survival of the Medicare program. And the president should work with Republicans to bring down our country’s unsustainable debt. But we’ll never get there with the unserious plan the President proposed this week. The longer the White House waits to get serious is a day closer to going over the fiscal cliff, and the harder it will be to find a solution.”

“Americans want Washington to work together to get our country back on track, and to ensure we leave it in a better place than we found it for future generations,” he continued. “This is our chance. Let’s make the hard decisions. Let’s make those decisions we know must be made.”