Just days after negotiating America’s rescue from the fiscal cliff, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the work isn’t done when it comes to spending cuts and entitlement reform — and he won’t rule out a government shutdown as the means by which to secure those changes.
McConnell appeared on NBC‘s “Meet the Press” with David Gregory on Sunday morning, and the two men got in a intense back-and-forth about the possibility of a government shutdown.
“If you are not satisfied that you’re dealing with the spending issue, the entitlement issue, the way you think it ought to be dealt with, would you rule out a government shutdown to achieve your goals?” Gregory asked.
“What I think we ought to do is to encourage the President to actually be President, address the single biggest issue confronting the future of our country,” McConnell answered.
“I understand that’s your view,” the host countered. “But my question is will you rule out a government shutdown?”
“I know what your question is,” McConnell responded. “What I’m telling you is I haven’t given up on the President stepping up to the plate and tackling the single biggest issue confronting the country.”
“But senators, like Senators Toomey and Cornyn are saying they would consider a government shutdown,” Gregory pressed. “As the leader of the Republicans, would you rule it out?”
“As the leader of the Republicans, what I’m telling you we elected the President to be President,” the Senator responded. “It’s time for him to step up to the plate and lead us in the direction of reducing our excessive spending.”
McConnell criticized President Obama for his lack of leadership on the issue of spending and entitlement reform, saying Republicans had to drag him “kicking and screaming” to the table. He called it a “shame” that Congress is required to use whatever means it has at its disposal to address “excessive spending.”
“We know he’s good at campaigning,” McConnell said. “But when does he put the campaign aside and and start governing and addressing the single biggest issue confronting America and its future?
Newly sworn-in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp appeared on ABC‘s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos and confronted the remarks the Senate Minority Leader had made.
“We all need to stop talking in ultimatums and say only these — you know, narrowing the debate,” Heitkamp said. “Put everything on the table, start working together. That’s what you do in America in every small town and every business in America. You don’t rule out anything.”
“But the President’s got an ultimatum and says he’s not even going to talk about spending cuts over the debt limit,” Stephanopoulos countered.
“I think — I think what we need to do is stop talking in ultimatums and start talking about how we resolve the issue with a sense of urgency, and so that’s what the American people sent us here to do,” she said. “That’s why I think I got elected because I talked about results. You know, there’s people who run for these jobs who want the job then there’s people who want to do the job, and we just need to get to work.”