WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell foreshadowed a new fight over the nation's borrowing limit this summer, saying Tuesday that the only time President Barack Obama gets "serious" is when Republicans use the debt ceiling to drag him "kicking and screaming" into negotiations.
After Republicans had to give in on some of the tax hikes Democrats and Obama wanted in the fiscal cliff deal at the start of January, Democrats and Republicans have been working fairly diligently on funding the federal government once its money runs out at the end of March. The "continuing resolution" that would do so is still tied up in the Senate, where Republicans would like to make some changes to the House version. Nevertheless, the chance of a government shutdown showdown remains low.
McConnell's remarks Tuesday on Capitol Hill suggested the GOP will hold its fire until the summer, when, like in 2011, the country could once again face a historic default if Congress doesn't raise the borrowing cap. In 2011, that showdown caused a downgrade of the nation's credit rating -- and the creation of the Budget Control Act and "sequestration" -- prompting many Democrats to accuse Republicans of being willing to destroy the economy in order to get their way on taxes and spending.
But McConnell offered a rationale designed to head off such criticism, saying debt battles are the way to achieve significant shifts in the government's finances. "That has generated -- as it has going back to the 1950s -- major changes," the Kentucky Republican said. "The notion that it is somehow irresponsible to have a discussion about the debt when you're asked to raise the debt ceiling is completely wrong."
McConnell's belittling of the president's seriousness, and the rest of his argument, can be seen in the video above.
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