Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Sunday that the… (Drew Angerer / Getty Images )
WASHINGTON -- If the battle lines of the next budget fight between the White House and Congress were not already clear, Mitch McConnell underscored them in emphatic terms Sunday.
With three looming fiscal deadlines in the coming months, the Republican Senate minority leader made clear in a round of interviews on the Sunday morning talk shows that the GOP will not consider further tax increases to help pay down the nation’s debt.
“The tax issue is finished, over, completed,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That's behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that's our spending addiction. It's time to confront it. The president surely knows that.”
McConnell told CBS’ Bob Schieffer that he was open to tax reform, “but now that we have resolved the revenue issue, tax reform ought to be revenue-neutral.”
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The entrenched position of Republican lawmakers -- eager to distance themselves from last week’s short-term “fiscal cliff” resolution, which raised taxes on the rich -- sets up yet another bitter clash with the White House.
While President Obama has said he supports the need for spending cuts, he has vigorously pushed back against the GOP demand for specific cuts in exchange for raising the nation’s debt limit to pay its outstanding bills.
“One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up,” Obama said in his weekly address Saturday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed that Sunday, saying on CBS that “I don't think these two things should be related.”
“Right now, we have to pay the bills that have been incurred,” she said. “And if you want to say cut spending for what we do next, fine, but don't tie it to the debt ceiling.”
But GOP lawmakers said Sunday they would not back down.
“I want to raise the debt ceiling, but I will not do it without a plan to get out of debt,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on CNN’s “State of the Union. "If you raise the debt ceiling by a dollar, you should cut spending by a dollar. That is the way to go forward.”
McConnell indicated Sunday that the fiscal fights would consume all the oxygen on Capitol Hill in the coming months, delaying any possible gun control legislation coming out of the White House.
“Clearly we will not be addressing that issue early, because spending and debt are going to dominate the first three months,” he said on CBS.