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GOP Frustration Grows With Obama Approach to Jobs, Deficit

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President Obama gestures as he speaks on his American Jobs Act legislation Sept. 14 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. (AP)

Republican frustration is growing with President Obama's revamped approach to deficit reduction and job creation, as he prepares to unveil the latest plank in his economic roadmap Monday. 

The tone from the party has changed markedly over the past two weeks. When Obama delivered his jobs speech to Congress earlier this month, GOP leaders greeted the address with blanket statements welcoming the opportunity to work together on proposals that will grow the economy.

But then the president proposed paying for those items with tax increases. And in the president's plan for long-term deficit reduction set for release Monday, he's expected to call for a new tax rate for people making more than $1 million a year. 

The president will announce a proposal that includes new taxes, nearly $250 billion in reductions in Medicare spending and savings of $1 trillion from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The plan includes no changes in Social Security and does not include an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, which the president had considered this summer.

Republicans who want the next phase of deficit reduction to focus on entitlements ripped into Obama on Sunday, urging him to take a new tack before it's too late. 

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, questioned whether the stage could be set for a bipartisan agreement. 

"When the president does things like this, it leads me to believe that he's not in bipartisan consensus-making mood. He's in a political class warfare mode and campaign mode. And that's not good for our economy," Ryan said on "Fox News Sunday." 

Obama's deficit-reduction plan will be pitched to the bipartisan "super committee," which is trying to find about $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade -- the president will push for at least $2 trillion in savings, in part to cover the cost of his $447 billion jobs plan. 

Ryan said the committee would have been a "good vehicle" through which to achieve tax reform by striking deductions, simplifying the code and lowering tax rates -- all while cutting spending. He said details coming out of the White House cause him to "second-guess myself." With some calling on the bipartisan committee to go big, Ryan suggested Washington shouldn't get its hopes up. 

"We should hold our expectations down on the select committee and let's just get another down payment on debt. There's so much spending that needs to be cut," Ryan said. 

Ryan also slammed the president's jobs proposal, which includes a blend of tax breaks, infrastructure spending and local government aid. While he expressed interest in one proposal to retrain the long-term unemployed, Ryan said that even the payroll tax cut component of Obama's plan is a bad idea. 

"It hasn't worked, and especially when you're taking these temporary tax rebates and paying for them with permanent tax increases, that is actually self-defeating," he said. "So, we just don't want to go with ideas that have already proven to fail." 

Other Republicans complain that, with the president taking his case to voters in battleground states, the debate has been imbued with too much politics almost from the start. 

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell last week called the jobs bill a "campaign proposal." 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the millionaire tax idea is a "political move," pushing instead for ideas that would "flatten the tax code." 

But McConnell also said Sunday that "the window's not closed" to working with the president. 

"There actually are things we agree on," McConnell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." 

Citing bipartisan cooperation that yielded agreements on welfare reform during the Clinton administration and tax reform during the Reagan administration, McConnell said periods of divided government present "the perfect time to do big stuff." 

Despite the rhetoric on both sides, McConnell predicted a "major bipartisan accomplishment" out of the deficit committee. As for the millionaire tax -- which the White House is calling the "Buffett Rule," after Warren Buffet who complained he was paying taxes at a lower rate than his secretary -- McConnell said it's a bad idea in a downturn. 

"If he's feeling guilty about it, I think he should send in a check," McConnell said of Buffett. 

While Ryan dismissed many of the proposals in Obama's jobs plan, other GOP figures expressed an interest in striking a deal on at least some of them 

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus complained Sunday that the White House was offering a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal on jobs. "This shtick of them wanting compromise ... is a joke," he said on Fox News. But he said the payroll tax breaks could represent an area of bipartisan agreement. 

Graham also suggested Republicans could get behind the payroll tax idea. 

Meanwhile, Democrats defended the president's approach to the dual challenges of high debt and high unemployment. 

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said a new tax rate on those making more than $1 million a year is "certainly" a good idea, for those "who are wealthy and comfortable and wouldn't even notice it." 

"I wonder if (House Speaker) John Boehner knows what it sounds like when he continues to say the position of the Republican Party in America is that you can't impose one more penny in taxes on the wealthiest people," Durbin said on "State of the Union." 

"The president's proposed 'Buffett Rule' is right on target as overall the very wealthy in our country have seen their incomes skyrocket while middle class income has stalled and poverty has risen," Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. 

As for Republicans opposed to the payroll tax break extension, Obama said during his address to Congress Sept. 8 that Republicans should not break their no-tax-hike pledge when middle-class earnings are on the line. 

"I know that some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes," the president said. 

Former President Bill Clinton, speaking on ABC's "This Week," said now is the time for an agreement, not a stalemate. 

"According to all this economic analysis, it will create between 1.5, 2 percent increase in GDP growth. It will put a million or two million people to work, and we'll be on the way back," Clinton said Sunday. "We need some signal out of Washington that they understand that cooperation is good economics, even if conflict is good politics."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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