The Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said Sunday a new budget deal should include only spending cuts because the recent "fiscal cliff" agreement included higher taxes on wealthy Americans.
"The tax issue is finished, over, completed," McConnell said on ABC's This Week. "That's behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that's our spending addiction."
President Obama, however, says he will continue to push for a "balanced" debt cut plan, one that includes more tax revenues from the wealthy as well as reductions to popular programs, possibly including Medicare and Social Security.
In his Saturday radio address, Obama pushed the idea of closing tax loopholes.
"Spending cuts must be balanced with more reforms to our tax code," Obama said. "The wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations shouldn't be able to take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most Americans."
The White House and Congress face three major budget challenges over the next three months.
The fiscal cliff deal Obama signed last week deferred a series of massive automatic budget cuts for two months; the parties will try to negotiate a different set of cuts in order to head off those automatic cuts.
The U.S. is also in danger of exceeding its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, raising the specter of a government default. Obama and McConnell also disagree on whether an increase in the debt ceiling should be tied to new spending cuts.
Another key upcoming date: March 27, the expiration of the continuing resolution that is funding the government, creating the possibility of a government shutdown.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)