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Yarmuth Praises Obama Debt Address, Criticizes GOP Leaders

Reacting to the president's address about ongoing debt ceiling negotiations, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., slammed Republican leaders for playing politics with the nation's credit and believes Democrats won't support a deal unless it includes wealthier Americans making sacrifices.At a news conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama said raising revenue had to be an option to reducing the deficit and criticized Republicans for not accepting any tax increases as part of a compromise to raise the debt limit. Though Mr. Obama predicted a deal would be reached, he called the GOP position unsustainable and added Democrats have already committed to cutting their "sacred cows" during negotiations.Yarmuth says the president did a good job in outlining the choices congressional leaders face and ripped Republicans for leveraging the issue while defending tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals and companies."One of the things that got us into this huge problem was the Bush tax cuts. So to say we aren't going to address the revenue side in trying to correct the problem ignores the way we got into this mess to begin with," he says.Last week, Republicans rejected calls to raise revenue and walked out of bipartisan negotiationsled by Vice President Joe Biden, citing Democrats' demand for "tax increases." In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made the choice even more stark, claiming the country would be "broke or balanced" by the end of negotiations.From the State Column:McConnell, who is trying to push a Balanced Budget Amendment through Congress, argued that “Republicans think that Democrats should be held accountable for the way they’ve mismanaged the national checkbook over the past two years, and Democrats seem to think taxpayers should take the hit.”

McConnell also accused Democrats of bringing the U.S. to the brink of an “economic calamity.” McConnell argued that solving the budget crisis should not be a blame game, but a chance to take responsibility for irresponsible actions by those in Washington.

McConnell suggested that a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would be a great way for Washington to acknowledge its responsibility for a poor economy. Currently, a Balanced Budget Amendment has the support of all 47 Republicans in the Senate.

Yarmuth says neither McConnell or House Speaker John Boehner are being honest brokers with the president, and their gamesmanship could have a negative impact on every citizen.Asked if Democrats are willing to make further compromises, Yarmuth said it is unacceptable to make continued cuts at the expense of vulnerable communities and he would not support that type of plan."If this is all done with cuts to programs like Head Start and Pell Grants and important research expenditures and nutrition programs and Medicaid, that's the wrong way to balance the budget. I'm interested in shared sacrifice,"he says. "And understand that when the Republicans were in control of the White House and the Congress, they raised the debt ceiling seven times. And all these people who are now making a big deal out of it didn't hesitate to raise the debt ceiling when they were in control. And when they were actually creating a lot of the conditions that led to this deficit."