On January 6, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), appeared on ABC’s This Week for an interview with George Stephanopoulos. McConnell, while repeating the “cut spending, don’t tax” Republican mantra, was fact checked by Stephanopoulos in real time on the subject of spending — here’s the video:
HOST GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And I think the President said he’s willing to engage in more discussions over the sequester and the government shutdown, but that would also include new revenues. You say the tax debate is over.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: Oh, yeah. The tax…the tax…revenue…the tax issue is finished, over, completed. That’s behind us. Now the question is, “What are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country, and our future?” And that’s our spending addiction. It’s time to confront it. The President surely knows that, I mean, he’s mentioned it both publicly and privately. Uh, the time to confront it is now. And we ought to engage…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But in the last year, Senator, let me just interrupt you there, in the last year during the Budget Control Act, the Congress actually cut $1.5 trillion in spending. That’s more than was raised in revenue in this last fiscal cliff deal. So 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?
McCONNELL: Yeah, absolutely. The tax issues is behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the real problem? Uh, we didn’t have this problem because we weren’t taxing enough. Fortunately, because as a result of the agreement that was reached, 99% of Americans will not see their taxes go up. 500,000 small businesses will not see their taxes go up. The President got a trillion dollars less in revenue than he wanted. That means that money stays in the pocket of the American people. Now it’s time to pivot and turn to the real issue, which is our spending addiction. And, we ought to do it together, now. We all know we’ve got to quit spending so much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, then it seems like the divide is as deep as ever if you’re completely ruling out revenues and saying spending is the only answer.
Stephanopoulos got one detail wrong: The spending cuts of 2011 came from the spring budget deal to avert a shutdown as well as the Budget Control Act, which concluded the last debt ceiling crisis. But the total cuts did come out to at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade — and considerably more than that, once reduced interest payments due to a smaller debt are factored in.
So more than twice the $600 billion in new revenue raised by the fiscal cliff deal. And before that there was the $700 billion in reduced Medicare spending passed in the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The country has, in fact, already “confronted” the spending problem.
I’d also like to point out that a decently large section of the deficit and debt actually are, indeed, caused by not taxing enough — the Bush tax cuts cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and Republicans want them renewed — even for the super-rich.
With this kind of stonewalling and absolute refusal to cooperate, it looks like 2013 is going to be yet another bitter, partisan battle with regard to the United States budget. Hopefully in 2014 we can get the obstructionist conservatives out of office.
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