The Leader Board
'We've resolved the tax issue now. It's over. It's behind us. We were able to get permanent tax relief for 99 percent of American taxpayers and for 500,000 small businesses. So that's behind us. What's left to be dealt with is the spending. And it's a shame that the president doesn't embrace the effort to reduce spending.'
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' ABC's 'This Week' and CBS's 'Face the Nation' this morning. The following are excerpts from the interviews:
On spending cuts, debt ceiling and taxes:
Meet the Press: "We have a spending problem. You know, we have a debt the size of our economy, which makes us look a lot like Greece. This administration has driven spending as a percentage of our economy from 21 percent up to almost 25 percent. We've resolved the tax issue now. It's over. It's behind us. We were able to get permanent tax relief for 99 percent of American taxpayers and for 500,000 small businesses. So that's behind us. What's left to be dealt with is the spending. And it's a shame that the president doesn't embrace the effort to reduce spending. None of us like using these situations like the sequester or the debt ceiling or the operation of government to try to engage the president to deal with this."
"The biggest problem confronting the country is our excessive spending. If we're not going to deal with it now, when are we going to deal with it? We have watched the government explode over the last four years. We've dealt with the revenue issue. Now the question is, will the president lead? You know, why should we have to be bringing him to the table? Why isn't he leading us in the direction of beginning to solve our long-term debt and deficit problem? It's perplexing to me that the president of the United States, elected to lead the country, is so reluctant to engage on the most important issue regarding our future."
"We know he's good at campaigning but when does he put the campaign aside and start governing and addressing the single biggest issue confronting America?"
This Week: "Well, first, let me say these last-minute deals are no way to run the government. We've known all of these deadlines are coming. Why we end up in these last-minute discussions is beyond me.We need to function. I mean, the House of Representatives, for example, passed a budget every year. They've passed appropriations bills. The Senate Democratic majority and the president seem to like these last-minute deals. Now, we know these three issues are coming up, the sequester, the debt ceiling, and the continuing resolution to operate the government. Why don't we sit down now and not wait until the last minute to get these matters resolved? Look, the biggest problem confronting the country is not taxes. It's - it's spending. We don't have this problem because we tax too little; we have it because we spend too much. We now have a $16.4 trillion national debt, as big as our economy. That alone makes us look a lot like Greece. This administration has driven spending from 21 percent of our economy up to almost 25 percent of our economy. We've got to stop using the credit card. And any opportunity we have to engage the other side in a discussion about quitting the spending spree, we're going to engage in."
Face the Nation: "The tax issue is over. We resolved that a few days ago. Everybody's taxes were going to go up - because that's the way the law was written - a few days ago.Ninety-five percent of Senate Republicans worked, voted for, permanent tax relief for 99 percent of the American taxpayers and 500,000 small businesses. Not a single Republican senator voted to raise anybody's taxes. The tax issue is over. And now it's time to pivot to the single biggest threat to our country both in the short-term and the long-term. We now have a debt of $16.4 trillion. That's as big as our economy. That alone makes us look a lot like Greece. We have an incredible spending addiction. This administration has driven spending as a percentage of our economy from 21 percent up to almost 25 percent. It's time for the President to pivot and lead us in a discussion about saving this country for our children and our grandchildren."
On strengthening entitlement programs:
This Week: "You know, 60 percent of what we spend every year is interest on the national debt and very popular entitlement programs. Until we address the entitlement programs and make the eligibility for entitlements meet the demographics of our country, we can't ever solve this problem. If we want to have the kind of country for our children and grandchildren that our - that our parents left behind for us, the time to do that is now. Ironically, divided government is the perfect time to do it, because you can pull both sides together and do things that need to be done for the future, and the American people will understand, since you did it together, it was absolutely necessary."
Meet the Press: "I have said repeatedly, publicly and other members have that until you adjust the eligibility for entitlements, do things like raising the age for Medicare for future beneficiaries, not for those currently receiving or those about to receive, have serious means testing for high income people, you know, Warren Buffett is always complaining about not paying enough taxes. What I'm complaining about is we're paying for his Medicare. We ought not to be providing these kinds of benefits for millionaires and billionaires. We ought to make sure that the eligibility for entitlements meets the demographics of America. When Social Security was passed back in the '30s, I think the average American lived to be about 61. This year the average male will live to be 79, the average female, 81.We need to adjust these programs for the future so that they'll still be there. The trustees of Medicare and Social Security say that Medicare is going to tank in 10 years.The question is, are we going to preserve these programs for future beneficiaries? The president should be leading, not being dragged to the table by Republicans who want to solve the biggest problem confronting the future of our nation."
On the fiscal cliff agreement:
This Week: "The tax issue is behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the real problem? We didn't have this problem because we weren't taxing enough. Fortunately, as a result of the agreement that was reached, 99 percent of Americans will not see their taxes go up, 500,000 small businesses will not see their taxes go up. The president got $1 trillion less in revenue than he wanted. That means that money stays in the pockets 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."
If Chuck Hagel is nominated as Secretary of Defense:
This Week: "Well, whoever's nominated for secretary of defense is going to have to have a full understanding of our close relationship with our Israeli allies, the Iranian threat, and the importance of having a robust military. So whoever that is, I think, will be given a thorough vetting. And if Senator Hagel's nominated, he'll be subjected to the same kinds of review of his credentials as anyone else."
"The question we will be answering, if he's the nominee, is do his views make sense for that particular job? I think he ought to be given a fair hearing, like any other nominee, and he will be."
***"I'm going to wait and see how the hearings go and see whether Chuck's views square with the job he would be nominated to do."