Speaking on the floor this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made major remarks on the debt limit negotiations, saying, “[A]fter years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this President is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable.”
He explained, “I was one of those who had long hoped we could do something big for the country. But in my view the President has presented us with three choices: smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default. Republicans choose none of the above. I hoped to do good; but I refuse to do harm.”
“So,” Leader McConnell said, “Republicans will choose a path that actually reflects the will of the people — which is to do the responsible thing and ensure the government doesn’t default on its obligations. And to continue to press the administration to rein in Washington. Not to freeze it in place.”
Leader McConnell elaborated on the situation President Obama presented Republicans: “At a moment when we needed leadership the most, we got the least. The financial security of the nation was being gambled on the President’s wager that he could convince people our problems would be solved if we just all agreed to take it out on the guy in the fancy house down the street. In my view, that was the saddest commentary on the status of the leadership at the White House.
“And I’m proud of the fact that Republicans refused to play along. We stood our ground. We know that what Americans need right now is for government to make job creation easier, not harder. And we said so. At a time when 14 million Americans are looking for work, we refused to support a tax hike. We supported jobs and economic growth instead.”
Leader McConnell called out Democrats for the smoke and mirrors they’ve presented to Americans and pointed out why Republicans refused to accept this. “When Democrats saw that we wouldn’t budge, they proposed one last offer to craft a deal. They asked us to join them in another Washington effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. They offered us the opportunity to participate in the kind of deliberate deception of the public that has given public service such a bad name in recent years. We all saw how it worked. The Administration carefully leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions of dollars in spending cuts.
“The lack of detail concealed the fact that the savings they were supposedly willing to support was at best smoke and mirrors. The hope here was that the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening.
“But the practical effect would have been at most about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow. We’ve seen this kind of thing before. It’s just this kind of sleight of hand governing that’s put our nation more than $14 trillion in debt. And I will not associate myself with it. I refuse to join in an effort to fool the American people.”
Leader McConnell emphasized, “Republicans have told the President we’re not interested in business as usual in Washington. We mean it. We will not be party to something that claims to save trillions but leaves it to future generations to pick up the tab, and to future Congresses to reverse it with a simple vote. We will not pretend that a bad deal is a good one.”
He lamented Democrats’ intransigence on retaining their huge increases in the size of government and their insistence on tax hikes. “An ideological commitment to big government has outweighed the White House’s commitment to find a meaningful compromise that does not damage our fragile economy in the process. Rather than find a way to bring government back to the people, the Administration has committed itself to protecting the size and scope of government at the cost of job creation, economic growth, and America’s status in the global economy.”
Leader McConnell summarized the problem: “We showed a willingness to sacrifice all along, even as we made it crystal clear from the outset that tax increases would not be a part of any agreement. It was their commitment to big government that stood in the way of a grand bargain. It was their determination to freeze the policies of the past two years in place, permanently. The American people don’t want that, and Republicans won’t be seduced into enabling it.”
# Senate News Briefing