McConnell: Debt debate 'starts today'
January 2nd, 2013
09:30 PM ET
8 years ago

McConnell: Debt debate 'starts today'

(CNN) - Hours after Congress sent a bill for the president's signature to avoid the fiscal cliff, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already gearing up for the next showdown.

The Kentucky Republican wrote in an op-ed that President Barack Obama should be prepared to "have a fight" over government spending and the debt limit in the coming weeks, adding that the tax debate is now a thing of the past with the new legislation.

"I have news for him: The moment that he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the terms of the current arrangement, it was the last word on taxes. That debate is over," McConnell wrote in the Yahoo News op-ed. "Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation's fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion."

By late February or early March, Congress will have to vote on raising the debt ceiling, the amount the government can legally borrow. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has already said federal borrowing has reached the current $16.394 trillion debt ceiling. Also in March, Congress will have to deal with the delayed sequester–automatic spending cuts–and vote on a continuing budget resolution.

The upcoming "mini-cliffs," as some have called it, are almost sure to have partisanship similar to that seen in the fiscal cliff debacle.

Republicans say they oppose raising the debt limit, preferring instead to cut spending. In the 2011 debt limit fiasco, Democrats argued it was necessary to raise the ceiling and prevent the government from defaulting on its loans. Many are repeating the same argument.

Obama said in his statement late Tuesday night at the White House that he wants "less drama" and "brinksmanship" in future negotiations over fiscal matters.

"I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed," he said.

House Republicans expressed frustration late Tuesday night over the fiscal cliff deal's lack of spending cuts, with many vowing to pursue aggressive cuts in the debt ceiling debate.

McConnell wrote that the president should get ready for the battle.

"The President may not want to have a fight about government spending over the next few months, but it's the fight he is going to have, because it's a debate the country needs," he said, adding that Obama "must show up" and deliver a serious plan for slashing federal spending.

"That's the debate the American people really want. It's a debate Republicans are ready to have. And it's the debate that starts today, whether the President wants it or not," McConnell wrote.

- CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Filed under: Debt • Fiscal Cliff • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There needs to be a serious talk about what the goal is. I think that the GOP, run buy the Teapublicans, don't want to do any spending on anything but the military. It would be nice to have some forward thinking by these people. Democrats need to understand that Medicare and Social Security need to have some level of reform; increase in the eligiblity age and possibly means testing.

    January 2, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  2. David

    Cut the bloated military and end oil subsidies.

    January 2, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. john oh

    Listen to this shriveled up turtle... He wants to come out acting hard? He is only going to make the decision to kick Republicans to the curb in 2014 that much easier. McConnell and the rest of the Republicans are gonna get the US credit rating downgraded Again, and in the end are just going to end up losing even bigger than already foreseen.

    January 2, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. mb

    If the GOP is serious about cutting govt spending, maybe they should start with the F-35 fighter jet that the military says they don't need or want. The one that bohener won't let die because its in his district and there would be job losses in his district because of it. Then they could start looking at all political waste of money, on both sides of the aisle. And for entitlements, well myself and every other tax payer pays dedicated taxes for them, so yes we are entitled to them. And if you cut our entitlements is that not a back door tax increase on the tax payers? How about doing means testing to see how much you should be entitled to receive? The rich would be entitled to recieve less then the middle class.

    January 2, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. Ozzie

    The man is dangerous and evil.

    January 2, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already gearing up for the next showdown.

    Ohh No !
    What's the old man from Kentucky going to do now , make Obama a one term president ?

    It's time for Mitch to look for a more rewardable existence , maybe as a mortician .

    January 2, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. jj2k

    Thats easy, cut military spending and close down military bases around the world and you should save a hell of a lot of money

    January 2, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. Anthony

    Bring it on, McConnell. You want to cut spending, name the spending cuts yourself. Go ahead, force the government to default. Let us see if the Republican Party can survive when the government cannot issue Social Security checks.

    January 2, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  9. DENNA

    Stupid GOP. They still can't get it through their heads that the America wants action, not more of the same as the last four years. You let W. raise the debt limit and then acted like it was a new idea when President Obama needed to raise it. Get with the program, or go ahead and be anchors on the country. You will be gone in 2014 – bet on it.

    January 2, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  10. enuff

    McConnell needs to stop viewing everything as a declaration of war and actually WORK for the money that the American tax payer is providing him as a salary.

    January 3, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  11. 22

    Breaking news,Obama is not running for a third term!You better step up and do what you were elected to do and that doesn't include being obstructionists just to punish the people for voting Obama in.The Kochs and Adelsons won't have enough votes to save your sorry behinds in 2014.

    January 3, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  12. BlackUSAguy

    Isn't this the same guy who said OBama is a one-term president. You fool. You have toughen Obama. Idiot.

    January 3, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  13. Donkey Party

    The GOP are domestic terrorists, holding the country hostage over their radical ideology. On this course, Civil War will be the only, and final answer to eradicate diseased conservative ideology once and for all.

    January 3, 2013 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  14. FOX NEWS: The dung beetle of journalism.

    Explain to me why the House GOP thinks they can withhold increasing the debt ceiling as a "leveraging position"?

    Explain to me the horror and financial mayhem that occurred the last time our rating slid from AAA?

    Oh wait, seems more folks bought our debt and actually LOWERED the interest yield!

    Yep, that will be a pretty big stick the GOP will be weilding to make President O cave to their will.

    I predict he will simply shrug, say let's default and shout across the Oval Office to Boehner "BFD"!.

    Then and only then, will Boehner and his bagger boiz, er, "young guns", understand they are so screwed!

    January 3, 2013 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  15. anonoymous

    No we the people want to know why for four years you have done nothing? thats what we really want to know

    January 3, 2013 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  16. Jim M

    Lets start woth some of the pork that goes to Kentucky.

    January 3, 2013 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  17. JayJ7

    Why not start with the enormous healthcare costs to government and business. Mandate that Hospitals publish price lists and give people cash incentives to choose lower cost providers. What about the government drug program only supplying generic drugs except in extreme cases. Cut back on overseas military. Stop criminalizing victimless crimes like drug usage that fills our prisons. Are these really such radical ways to save hundreds of billions a year.

    January 3, 2013 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  18. ryan

    How much longer are we going to keep charging on the credit card and keep asking for an extension?

    January 3, 2013 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  19. Ed

    Unless you and your fellow republicans grow a set over the next few weeks you'll wimper back into the corner with your tails beween your legs just like always when faced with stiff opposition from the democrats. Nice talk McConnel but so far you've proven to be more of a pussy cat than a tiger.

    January 3, 2013 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  20. Just Me

    I have one question for McConnell. Why does the debt ceiling talks have to result in a fight? Actually, I lied, I have a few more: Why can't you politicians in Washington D.C. sit down like adults, discuss the issues, compromise, and come to an agreement on matters important for the country and the American people? Why all the disrespect towards the president?

    Well, while McConnell has "news for the President", many of us in the American public have news for him and his ilk. We are tired of your shameless juvenile bickering, and we are so irritated by you that we cannot wait for the next election cycle to throw you guys out of office! Enough of your bs!

    January 3, 2013 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  21. Richard Smith

    The massive debt in this country has as much to do with two off the books unpaid for wars, and tax cuts for all of us as it does Medicare and the social nets we have here. McConnell and buddies will get their heads handed to them once again if they push their version too hard again. Their story just does not have legs-and no one wants their own piece of government spending taken away-Not Exxon, Not the Pentagon, not Tea Party Grandpas–nobody. Good luck to Mitch and his delusional friens.

    January 3, 2013 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  22. sologosb

    The Republicans apparently still have not gotten the message that the American citizens have been calling for all along. Get along. Treat each other with respect. Stop considering every decision "a battle". Yes, we should cut our spending, but how about starting with Congress? Everyone should email congress asking that this be the first cut. Congressional salaries, benefits, pensions. Cut, Cut, Cut.

    January 3, 2013 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  23. harry Baxter

    On the President's first day in office, four years ago, McConnell vowed to work hard in order to make Mr. Obama "A One Term President". How did that work out for him??

    January 3, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  24. JacinJax

    McConnell has just shown why the Republicans just don't get it. The debt ceiling is not about new spending. It's about permission to pay the bills they already have due. It would be like a husband saying "I'm not paying the credit card bill until you stop buying groceries." They are once again going to hold The Full Faith and Credit of the United States hostage. Don't want more spending? Then deal with it at the appropriate time–budget talks.

    And now the tantrums begin all over again. Such a Statesman.

    January 3, 2013 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  25. stan

    debate? you mean try to weasel out of the payments previous administration is responsible for and pin it on someone else.

    January 3, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
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