Mitch McConnell: The ‘tax issue is behind us’

January 6, 2013

With looming deadlines on the nation's federal borrowing limit and delayed across-the-board budget cuts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that discussions about new taxes are off the table in upcoming fiscal debate, and that reining in government spending must be the focal point. 

"Are you saying that any discussion of revenue is completely off the table going forward? You will not accept any new revenues in any new deal?" asked ABC News's George Stephanopoulos on his program, "This Week." 

"Yeah, absolutely," McConnell said. " The tax issue is behind us. Now, the question is what are we going to do about the real problem. ... Now it's time to pivot and turn to the real issue, which is our spending addiction."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagreed with McConnell on taxes, arguing that looking at loopholes and deductions as a means of raising new revenue should remain part of the debate.  

"I mean, the president had said originally he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue, he took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion dollars, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side," Pelosi said on CBS News's "Face The Nation."

After agreeing to raise tax rates on wealthy Americans as part of the recent deal to avert the "fiscal cliff, some Republican lawmakers appear to believe they have leverage in the upcoming debate over the debt ceiling that will reach a critical point at the end of next month. GOP leaders are demanding substantial spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the limit. President Obama, meanwhile, has warned he will not negotiate with the GOP over the $16.4 trillion limit. 

While some Republicans appear hesitant to entertain the possibility of using a government shutdown or the debt ceiling as bargaining chips, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) wrote last week that he was open to the possibility of partial shutdown for the long-term fiscal stability of the country, if lawmakers don't come to terms on meaningful spending cuts. 

McConnell said he hoped a deal to rein in spending could be reached before the government approached the point of defaulting. 

 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · January 4, 2013