Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday he hopes President Barack Obama moves to the center over the next two years, and not just rhetorically.
“The president obviously got the message from the November election,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m happy that the president is pivoting, we all know why. But it is kind of a trust-but-verify moment. Let’s see if he is really willing to do it. And if he is, I think he’ll find a lot of help among Republicans in Congress.”
For example, McConnell said he was told the president plans to support lowering the corporate tax rate. “To the extent that he actually wants to do some of these things, our answer is going to be yes,” he added.
However, the Minority Leader criticized the 2009 stimulus and said Obama should not anticipate support for new spending, which he is expected to call for in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
McConnell also said Senate Republicans will be successful in holding a vote on a bill that would repeal the health care overhaul law, despite the insistence of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that the bill will not be brought to the floor.
“If that doesn’t pass, and I don’t think anyone is optimistic that it will, we intend to go after this health care bill any way that we can,” McConnell said. “It’s the single worst piece of legislation that’s been passed in my time in the Senate.”
Appearing after McConnell, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Republicans may be able to bring repeal up for a vote, but the GOP will have trouble getting it passed.
“It’s possible we’ll face that vote,” the Illinois Democrat said. “But having spoken with my Members in the Democratic caucus along with Sen. Reid, we feel there’s still strong support for health care reform.”
Durbin said that Democrats are sensitive to the deficit but that there could be new spending. He cautioned against cutting spending while the country is still moving out of a recession.
“The president, I’m sure in his State of the Union address, will make it clear his highest priority is putting Americans back to work, making sure our country is more competitive,” Durbin said.
On lowering the deficit, Durbin said Congress should “dust off” ideas floated by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and look at options like cutting $3 in spending for every $1 in revenue.
Both Senators refused to predict the outcome of the 2012 elections, when Senate Democrats will have twice as many incumbents up for re-election. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) announced Jan. 13 that she will not run for re-election, and two Senators who caucus with the Democrats, Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), announced their retirements last week.
“Retirements happen every cycle, and I think there’s a tendency to maybe read more into it than we should,” McConnell said. But, he added, “we like the odds.”
“The election we’re going to face in 2012 is going to be a lot different than the last election,” Durbin said.