Mitch McConnell Says He Doesn’t Want Debt Ceiling Negotiations to Turn Into a Hostage Situation

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Mitch McConnell. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In one of three Sunday talk show appearances, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wasn't sure whether he's prepared to "shoot the hostage" by letting the country default on its loans in the next round of the fiscal fight. While some Republicans are threatening to block a debt ceiling increase unless Democrats agree to major spending cuts, McConnell sidestepped the issue on ABC's This Week. "It’s not even necessary to get to that point," he said. "Why aren’t we trying to solve the problem? Why aren’t we trying to do something about reducing spending? … Waiting until the last minute is no way to run the government." He added that he would not accept any new tax revenues in the next  deal. "The tax issue is finished. Over. Completed. That’s behind us." Later, on CBS's Face the Nation, McConnell said it is "time to pivot to the single biggest threat to our country both in the short-term and the long-term ... We have an incredible spending addiction."

In her own Face the Nation visit, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argued against the idea of going cold turkey on anything and dismissed the aforementioned hostage situation as political theater. "The debt ceiling is about spending that has already occurred," Pelosi said. "Right now, we have to pay the bills that have been incurred. And if you want to say 'cut spending for what we do next,' fine, but don't tie it to the debt ceiling." Of the revenue issue, she said that the $620 billion in new tax money gained in the fiscal cliff deal "is just not enough" and proposed closing tax loopholes as one way to close the cash gap. (Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said much the same thing on CNN's State of the Union.) Such reforms could net the government hundreds of billions in additional income, an important consideration for progressive Democrats who accuse Obama — who'd initially demanded $1.6 trillion in new revenues — of leaving a lot of money on the negotiating table.