In about an hour, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will join President Obama and Senate Majority Leader (D-Nev.) in the Oval Office, launching the next phase in the debt-reduction talks. Before McConnell gets there, he’s already trying to take part of a bipartisan solution off the table.
Hours before a meeting with President Obama at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that any debt-ceiling deals that included tax hikes would be “politically impossible” in the current Congress because most Republicans and many Democrats oppose them.
“Those who are calling for tax hikes as a part of these debt discussions either have amnesia about the fate of similar votes just six months ago — when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress as well as the White House — or they’re acting in bad faith, since we all know that including massive, job-killing tax hikes would be a poison pill,” said McConnell on Monday from the Senate floor.
McConnell said he plans to ask the president for ideas on how to solve the debt crisis that do not include tax increases. “I intend to ask the president what he’s prepared to do, outside of raising taxes, about the massive deficits and debt that have accumulated on his watch”, said McConnell.
Let’s unpack this a bit, because I think it’s important, especially now as the talks enter the final phase.
First, to characterize tax increases as necessarily “job killing” is idiotic, even for a congressional Republican.
Second, McConnell, like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), seems to believe that the caucus he ostensibly leads is so unreasonable, he can’t even ask them to consider a bipartisan compromise. Indeed, as of today, McConnell believes anyone who suggests a balanced, bipartisan compromise is “acting in bad faith,” because they’re asking Republicans to do what every other bipartisan debt-reduction package has always done. This is insane.
Third, it’s almost amusing to hear McConnell demand a presidential plan “outside of raising taxes.” Does McConnell want to reduce the deficit or not? Does Obama get to say, “I intend to ask the Minority Leader what he’s prepared to do, outside of job-killing spending cuts”? If not, why does McConnell — the leader of the Senate minority — get to bark orders to the majority about what can and cannot be on the table?
And finally, my personal favorite is McConnell whining about the “massive” debt that’s “accumulated” on Obama’s watch. Since McConnell is so concerned about “amnesia,” let me refresh his memory: the The Kentucky Republican voted for the Bush tax cuts, and added the costs to the national debt. McConnell then voted to finance the war in Afghanistan by adding the costs to the national debt. He then voted to put the costs of the war in Iraq onto the national debt. McConnell supported a massive expansion of the government’s role in health care, Medicare Part D, and voted to pile all of its costs right onto the national debt, and then backed the financial industry bailout, and added the bill to the national debt. All the while, McConnell had no qualms about voting to raise the debt limit, over and over again, without conditions.
But now he oft-confused Minority Leader is demanding (a) that Obama clean up McConnell’s mess; and (b) do so in a way McConnell finds ideologically pleasing.
Tell you what, Mitch. Republicans concerned about who’s responsible for the fiscal mess the GOP created should take a look at this chart, recently put together by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
When Republicans are done looking at it, they can start by apologizing.