Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed Sunday with Speaker John Boehner’s stance that a sweeping $4 trillion deal between Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama to cut the deficit over the next 10 years is likely dead.
Saturday night, less than 24 hours before a scheduled meeting at the White House, Boehner (R-Ohio) suddenly walked away from the largest savings deal under discussion. The negotiators are hashing out deficit reductions to accompany a vote to raise the nation’s debt limit before Aug. 2, when the Treasury has said the nation will begin to default on its loans. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, but especially Republicans, have said the government needs to cut at least as much spending as it would take to raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 elections, or more than $2 trillion.
It’s clear that McConnell not only supports Boehner’s decision but also believes he and Boehner face similar difficulties in persuading GOP Members in their chambers to clear such a deal, which likely would have included revenue raisers Republicans have long rejected.
“I think it is because everything they’ve told me and the Speaker is that to get a big package would require big tax increases,” McConnell told “Fox News Sunday” when asked whether a $4 trillion deal is off the table. “We have 9.2 percent unemployment, and their prescription is to raise taxes? The president didn’t think that was a good idea in December, and they think it’s a good idea now?
“I’m for the biggest deal possible, too, but we’re not going to raise taxes in the middle of a recession,” McConnell added.
The Kentucky Republican’s response to perhaps the most important question he was asked underscored his party’s core beliefs, its bargaining position heading into Sunday night’s meeting and past successful negotiations McConnell has had with Obama. In December 2010, the Republican leader cut a deal with the president to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts through the next election.
McConnell used Friday’s disappointing unemployment numbers, Obama’s stances on taxes in December and the president’s willingness to discuss entitlement reform — even at the displeasure of Congressional Democrats — to argue that Republicans should continue to fight for smaller government.
He called for a freeze in government growth “in perpetuity,” adding, “I don’t think the American people want it, and it’s not good for the economy.”