January 31st, 2010
03:55 PM ET
4 years ago

McConnell backs spending reduction commission


Washington (CNN) – The leading Republican in the Senate pushed aside concerns that some members of his party had engaged in rank partisanship when they recently rejected a proposal for a bipartisan commission that would have made binding recommendations to Congress on ways to increase revenue and reduce spending.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, suggested Sunday that, during tough economic times, a commission charged solely with reducing spending was a better approach to reining in the federal budget deficit.

Last week, the Senate rejected a proposal co-sponsored by Sen. Judd Greg, a New Hampshire Republican, and Sen. Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, that would have created a bipartisan fiscal commission. The commission would have been charged with making recommendations to Congress regarding cutting spending and raising revenue. The recommendations would have been binding in the sense that Congress would have only been able to accept or reject the recommendations wholesale in an up-or-down vote; Congress would not have had the power to alter the commission’s recommendations before implementing them.

The proposal failed to garner the 60 votes necessary for passage in the Senate after seven Republicans who had previously supported the plan decided to vote against it.

McConnell defended his seven colleagues and pointed out that the president himself had decided only days before last week’s vote to back the proposal after coming under political pressure from moderates and conservatives in Democratic ranks.

McConnell also said Sunday that the nation’s fiscal challenges had more to do with excessive spending than with insufficient taxation.

“Look I don’t think anybody in the country thinks we have a problem because we tax too little. I think the problem is we spend too much,” McConnell told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on CNN’s State of the Union.

“The American people are appalled by the amount of money we have been spending this year,” McConnell also said Sunday. A commission charged with only looking at ways of reducing spending “was a more targeted way to do the same kind of commission approach,” the Senate Minority Leader said.

“I just think that’s a better way to go,” McConnell told King.

Asked whether his preference for a commission focused on reducing spending was related to the fact that 2010 is a midterm election year when voters are likely to be weary of tax increases, McConnell said focusing only on spending was a better approach in the current economic climate.

“Look, nobody thinks that raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a good idea. Have you ever heard anybody say that? I don’t think so.”

Appearing on State of the Union in February 2009, McConnell spoke favorably about the Gregg-Conrad proposal. “I’m in favor of that kind of a move to give us the ability to tackle one of our long-term deficit problems,” McConnell said last year.

With the statutory measure having failed in the Senate, President Obama is expected to use an executive order to create a similar commission whose recommendations will not be binding on Congress.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Gil Oberdas

    The Party of NO follows what they are told to say and say, "NO!" Then when they look bad for making not the slightest effort to bring debt reduction, now they change their minds because they were beginning to look bad. They have looked bad going on a life-time!

    January 31, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Mike in MN

    McConnell is spot on with the majority of voters.
    Soon Republicans will start campaigning for the House and Senate seats. You can bet they all will be running on a promise to cut spending by hundreds of billions now. In contrast Dems will be promising to only freeze a small portion of the budget in the future. The contrast will be stark. In addition the Republicans will campaign to not spend the 300 to 400 billion of the unspent balance of the failed stimulus and use it to pay down the deficit. Dems will insist on spending all of it.
    The American people know that the government has grown far to large and costs far to much. They are sick of the out of control spending and a large majority will support the Republicans on this issue.
    Obama is about to submit a 3.8 trillion dollar budget. This is about 600 billion more than the last Bush budget. A public shell shocked by back to back 1.3 trillion plus deficits under Obama will have no stomach for this massive increase in spending.

    January 31, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. JonDie

    Bill Clinton balanced the budget...and it got Democrats nowhere. As soon as Bush took office in 2001, the budget soared into record deficits as the Republicans spent and spent and spent...while cutting taxes for the rich. And from 1981 to 1989, Reagan created more deficit than all previous presidents combined, yet the media let the Republicans get away with calling themselves "fiscal conservatives."

    January 31, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. LG

    The key problem of this commission.

    Isn't it doing exactly what Congress is supposed to do under the Constitution. Pushing this off to a commission is equivalent to saying that Congress can't do its job.

    I'd like to suggest that it's quite possible to be in favor of spending cuts while against this commission. It's time to hold Congress' feet to the fire and force it to do its job.

    January 31, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. gate

    "The proposal failed to garner the 60 votes necessary for passage in the Senate after seven Republicans who had previously supported the plan decided to vote against it."

    GOP obstructionists. They don't care about fiscal responsibility. They are the party of No.

    January 31, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. stevegee

    The surest way to stop wasteful spending would be to eliminate the career politicians through term limits, and pass a law requiring the Federal Government to have a balanced budget.

    January 31, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Adam

    2/3 of federal spending are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. THe politicians don't want to change that. This is why we are in debt...not congressional pork, although that's despicable too. CNN should have pressed mcconnel on entitlement spending. This is the only way that our financial position will improve.

    January 31, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Pragmatic

    A month ago, a bipartisan group of senators asked Obama for his "strong support" for a commission to solve the national debt crisis.

    But when the proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor Tuesday, four of the Republican signers - Crapo, Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.) and Robert Bennett (Utah) - voted no. So did three other Republican senators who had also been co-sponsors of the legislation - 2008 presidential nominee John McCain (Ariz.), Sam Brownback (Kan.) and John Ensign (Nev.). An eighth co-sponsor, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), didn't vote.

    Thanks to these defections, the commission legislation fell seven votes short - and with it went any hope of tackling the debt crisis anytime soon. So much for moving the country forward or solving problems from the hide-bound obstructionist GOP!

    Couldn't even vote for a bill they proposed!

    January 31, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. B

    Someone ask this moron why no one was asking about this when- W-was in charge for EIGHT years!

    This is the result of Republicans spending this country into near oblivion before Obama was elected! They keep trying to rewrite history..

    January 31, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    As a small business owner, it is frustrating to see the Obama administration's idea of 'help' for small businesses. Think about this. We are the ones who took risks to start and build businesses and nobody else in the world wants to see my business grow and provide more jobs than me. Stay out of the way and out of my pockets and I will do what is necessary to grow my business. Me and hundreds of thousands of other small business owners. One of the largest difficulties for us right now is cash flow and we are paying a large percentage of what we have for taxes. Cut us a break there and we can grow our businesses. Really. That's what we do.

    January 31, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. david

    the republicans, in their usual dimwitted ways are setting the tone for politics for the next generation. do nothing, agree with nothing, compromise on nothing, get nothing done.

    if nothing else comes of this, one can only hope this leads to a nation which divides itself into what it should have been in the 1860's. one nation of freedom and justice and one nation of bigots and fools.

    January 31, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. a

    lets vote this guy out!!! pleassss

    January 31, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. Allison29

    Bottom line...if creating jobs doesn't benefit the Republican Party itself, then Republicans will do everything in their power to see defeat. Republicans don't like change let alone accomplishment.

    January 31, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. BJ in NC

    Did he have his head in the sand when the deficit was accumulating to $1.3 trillion dollars prior to President Obama's election? Now he is talking about spendidng. What a hipp-ocrite (too big to describe). That dog won't hunt anywhere except around the base. We know better and have all along.

    January 31, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. aware

    Stop spending Washington! :(

    January 31, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  16. C Spurgeon

    Idiot! Term Limjits pleaSE!

    January 31, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. mavcal

    The reason they have to form a spending reduction commission is because Obama is so grandiose. Rather, they should form a Grandiosity Reduction Commission.

    January 31, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  18. Michael from Ventura

    Gotta love these republicans that spout that the "majority of this country" agrees with them. Memo to morons: YOU LOST THE ELECTION! That's why all these NO's- you just can't accpet the FACT that you screwed up big time and put us in the mess we're in-That's why you LOST in November!

    January 31, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |