McConnell on the Debt Ceiling: Cap Spending Over 2 Years

By Chris Good

It will take longer-term reforms coupled with a two-year cap on federal spending to secure Mitch McConnell's on a hike in a the debt ceiling, the Senate minority leader said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

"We need to do something about the short term -- we need to get a spending ceiling for the next two years ... that needs to be on a declining basis," McConnell said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

"Then we need to do something mid-term," McConnell said, "both on the discretionary side and the mandatory side ... we need to do something significant short term, medium term, and long term."

McConnell's stance differs from that of House Republicans, though they're both pursuing the same broad goal: to extract spending cuts from President Obama in exchange for a higher debt ceiling, which Republicans and Democrats agree is necessary.

House Republicans have called for a spending cut equal to or greater than the amount of money by which the debt ceiling is raised. House Speaker John Boehner issued that demand in a speech last week to the Economic Club of New York. From Boehner's prepared remarks:

Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.

We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.

They should be actual cuts and program reforms, not broad deficit or debt targets that punt the tough questions to the future.

And with the exception of tax hikes -- which will destroy jobs -- everything is on the table. That includes honest conversations about how best to preserve Medicare, because we all know, with millions of Baby Boomers beginning to retire, the status quo is unsustainable.

When asked during the CNN interview about Boehner's demand, McConnell did not wed himself to the House speaker's position.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/mcconnell-on-the-debt-ceiling-cap-spending-over-2-years/238903/