POLITICS
01/08/2013 12:46 pm ET Updated Jan 08, 2013

Mitch McConnell Won't Say If He's Willing To Let Government Shut Down

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who spent the past Sunday morning doing the "modified limited Ginsburg" -- appearing on multiple Sunday chat shows, but not all of them -- managed to make a few things clear.

First and foremost, he considers the "tax issue" to be "behind us." Second, he wants to curtail what he perceives as an "addiction" to spending. And so, there will be negotiations to come, in which we'll find out if the issue of revenues is truly off the table and whether the GOP will be amenable to some variety of tax reform that ends up being "revenue-neutral."

As we've been talking about for the past few weeks, the most dire (and the most eminently avoidable) looming disaster is the breaching of the debt ceiling. But there have been signs of late that the GOP leadership is softening on debt ceiling hostage-taking.

There's more than one way to push things to the brink, though, including scenarios that avoid the calamity of breaching the debt ceiling and instead threaten a shutdown of the government. Ezra Klein points out that the GOP could use the continuing resolution and the threat of a government shutdown as leverage when that debate comes to a head in late March. And on "Meet The Press" this past weekend, former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made the suggestion personally, explaining that while weaponizing the debt ceiling was not advisable, the GOP had "no obligation to pass ... continuing resolution" or "a sequester on the president's terms."

Is McConnell willing to play a part in this? That's where things get murky. TV hosts David Gregory, George Stephanopoulos, and Bob Schieffer each took a run at McConnell, putting the question to him again and again. But they all came away empty-handed, as McConnell went out of his way to studiously avoid an answer, as you'll see in the video above.

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