WASHINGTON -- There will be no more increases in tax revenues as part of any debt or deficit-reduction deal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared in several interviews on Sunday.
“[T]he tax issue is finished, over, completed,” said the Kentucky Republican, during an appearance on ABC’s "This Week." "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 has mentioned it both publicly and privately. The time to confront it is now."
The comments represent a deep line in the sand as Congress and the White House approach the debates over replacing the $1 trillion in sequester-related cuts, the raising of the debt ceiling, and the passage of a continuing resolution to fund the government. And they foreshadow another major showdown between congressional Republicans and the administration.
The president has said that he will not make major entitlement reforms or spending cuts during those negotiations unless it is part of a balanced approach. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed that view.
“No, no, it is not,” she said, when asked by CBS’ Bob Schieffer if the revenue side was now taken care of. “I mean, the president had said originally he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue, he took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion dollars, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side.”
The hope, among Democrats, is that another $600 billion in revenue may be raised through comprehensive tax reform. The stage for that was set when lawmakers extended tax breaks for several wealth industries during the just-completed fiscal cliff deal. Eliminating those breaks in two months' time could be another revenue booster.
But in a separate appearance on "Meet The Press," McConnell ruled out even that.
“I'm in favor of doing tax reform,” he said, “but I think tax reform ought to be revenue-neutral as it was back during the Reagan years. We've resolved this issue. Look, we don't have this problem because we tax too little. We have it because we spend way, way too much.”