McConnell Isn't Sure If He's Ready to Let the U.S. Default

Mitch McConnell isn't sure if he's ready to "shoot the hostage" and let the country default if Republicans don't get what they want in the upcoming fight over the fiscal cliff; Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin are fans of tax reform generating new revenue; Lindsay Graham wants spending cuts.

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Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he wasn't sure if he's ready to "shoot the hostage" and let the country default on its loans during his appearance on ABC's This Week. Republicans have been planning to pick up the fiscal fight when the President needs to ask for a debt ceiling increase since some noticed they were going to lose the cliff deal. McConnell's answer to whether or not he's prepared to let the nation default: "It’s not even necessary to get to that point. 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 also said he would not be accepting any new revenues in a new deal. "The tax issue is over, finished, completed," McConnell told host George Stephanopolous. "Now the issue is: what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future, and that’s our spending addiction." McConnell predicted that the fiscal fight would dominate Obama's first three months of 2013, more than any other issue, including gun reform. "But the biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt," McConnell said. "That’s going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March. None of these issues, I think, will have the kind of priority that spending and debt are going to have over the next two or three months."

In regards to the appointment of Chuck Hagel to Secretary of Defense, McConnell said he "ought to be given a fair hearing like any other nominee." He's prepared to go through the process with an open mind. "I’m going to wait and see how the hearings go and whether Chuck’s views square with the job he would be nominated to do," McConnell said.

Nancy Pelosi doesn't agree with McConnell about the revenue issue. At least, that's what she said on CBS's Face the Nation. "The President had originally said he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue," Pelosi said. "He took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion dollars, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side." Pelosi wants to close potential tax loopholes and get rid of subsidies for "Big Oil," which she claims will generate $38 billion in revenue. She also dismissed the planned spending cut fight coming when the country reaches the debt ceiling. "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."

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin doesn't believe taxes are off the table in upcoming debt deals. He told Candy Crowley as much on CNN's State of the Union. "There are still deductions, credits, special treatments under the Tax Code that should be looked at very carefully," Durbin said. "We forego about $1.2 trillion a year in the Tax Code, money which otherwise would go to the government," he added. He seems to think there's a lot of money going to waste that could go to the government if the tax code was reformed. "Trust me," he said, "there are plenty of things within that tax code, these loopholes where people can park their money offshore and not pay taxes, are things that need to be closed."

Sen. Lindsey Graham says everyone should be fired if the debt-ceiling gets raised without a concrete plan to get the country out of debt. "I believe that we need to raise the debt ceiling, but if we raise it without a plan to get out of debt all of us should be fired,” Graham said on State of the Union. His ideal solution? Getting a budget out of the Democrats and spending cuts for every dollar they raise the ceiling. Otherwise, he says, he won't vote on a ceiling increase. "If you raise the debt ceiling by a dollar, you should cuts spending by a dollar, that’s the way to go forward.  And we need a budget. Our Democratic friends haven’t passed a budget in three years, contrary to the law of the land. A dollar for dollar offset and a budget, I think, are two conditions to raising the debt ceiling."

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he will put up a fight against two of the bigger issues facing the President in the next three months: Chuck Hagel's appointment to Secretary of Defense, and any potential gun reform. "This is a president who has drunk the tea. He's high on reelection right now," Cruz said on Fox News Sunday. On Hagel, Cruz said he is "concerned about... his record and past policy positions." On gun reform, Cruz said he would not support Dianne Feinstein's planned assault weapons ban, or any other reforms, really. He accused fellow politicians of trying to "exploit" the Newtown massacre so the country would adopt gun reform. "I don't think the federal government has any responsibility creating a national registry of people who choose to lawfully keep and bear arms," he said.

Democrat Freshman Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said se probably wouldn't support a comprehensive gun control package from the President during an appearance on State of the Union. The commission on gun reform is looking at a potential assault weapons ban, increasing backgrounds checks and a national database of gun owners. "I’m a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, but I also believe that we need to do things that prevent what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary," Heitkamp said. "I’m not a big believer that this is a one-size-fits-all solution," she added. "We need to have a balanced approach and we need to live in reality, what can you actually get passed that will keep kids safe in schools." Heitkamp also appeared on This Week, where she said she would prefer to focus on confronting mental health issues. "And to me, one of the issues that I think comes -- screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill," she said. "And so we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.