Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this morning that Congress will not raise taxes this year to reduce the budget deficit, favoring instead a pro-growth agreement as a solution to debt ceiling debate.
“I think I can safely say this Congress is not going to raise taxes,” McConnell said. “So why are we still talking about this?” McConnell argued that if Congress wanted to raise taxes, the simplest way would be to increase them on those individuals making over a million dollars a year.
“We had that vote in December when there were 59 Democrats in the Senate,” he said. “Remember, in December, the Democrats had a 40-seat majority in the House, they had 59 Democratic senators, and a guy in the White House who wants to raise taxes. And you had five Democrats vote with us against the Schumer proposal. They could not get a tax increase on people making a million dollars and up in a Congress that they had overwhelming control over last year.”
McConnell said he was hopeful that Congress would be reaching an agreement on debt reduction by August 1. On Sunday, McConnell said on CBS’s Face the Nation that the comprehensive package would “probably” include a short-term debt limit increase, an idea House majority leader Eric Cantor rejected yesterday. The Senate minority leader downplayed this disagreement with Cantor.
“My preference is the same as Leader Cantor’s,” McConnell said. “I hope we have a big, comprehensive, no blue-smoke-and-mirrors solution. So I don’t think we have any differences.”
Quoting columnist Charles Krauthammer, McConnell referred to the 2010 midterm election as a “national restraining order” on government spending. “There won’t be any more Obamacares or Dodd-Franks in this Congress,” he said. “I hope this Congress at the end will be known as the one that put the brakes on and seriously worked with the administration to tackle the excess that has been going on the last couple of years.”
“I hope that when people look back on this Congress, they will conclude that we did something serious about spending and debt, which I think are two of the biggest problems,” McConnell continued. “And if we do that, I think it’s going to have a positive impact on the economy, which is what most Americans are concerned about, and rightly so.”
McConnell also said that he favored fundamental tax reform, but argued the issue is too complex for Congress to try to squeeze in during the urgent debt limit debate. “I don’t think we ought to do this [tax reform] piecemeal in a few weeks,” he said. “I think we ought to do it, I think it would be very good for the economy to do it.” While he said that the code ought to be amended both for corporations and individuals, McConnell offered no specifics or endorsements of specific plans.
On 2012 politics, McConnell said he “has [his] hands full” and would be staying out of the primary process. He did say that President Obama was in a weak position for reelection and sounded hopeful for the GOP’s chances in 2012. “I’m confident that we’re going to nominate someone who’s going to be a credible, believable alternative,” McConnell said. “As long as we do that, and I’m confident we will, then it will be a referendum on the president and his performance. And if the presidential election were today, I think our theme would be ‘He made it worse.’”