As McConnell makes his push for federal spending reforms, former Sen. Simpson says "poor Mitch"

01/06/2013 08:49 AM

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell used his tour on the three major networks’ Sunday talk shows to repeatedly reinforce his call for spending reforms and changes to Medicare.

McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week,” for instance, that a debate over gun control proposals should wait until the next round of debt ceiling and spending votes are dealt with, which could mean waiting three months.

On all three programs, McConnell deflected questions about whether he would risk a government shut-down in order to get spending cuts. Instead, McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, repeatedly chastised President Barack Obama for having to be “dragged to the table” to debate spending cuts and reforms to programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“It’s a shame the president doesn’t embrace the effort to reduce spending,” McConnell told host David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “None of us like using these situations like the sequester or the debt ceiling or the operation of government to try to engage the president to deal with this.”

McConnell and Gregory spent little time on what type of spending reforms McConnell wants to see, although McConnell again endorsed the types of changes first touted by Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul.

“You know, Warren Buffett’s always complaining about not paying enough taxes. What I’m complaining about is we’re paying for his Medicare,” McConnell said.

McConnell said last week’s deal to avert the fiscal cliff has “resolved the revenue issue” by extending the Bush-era tax cuts to most Americans but letting them expire on individuals who make more than $400,000 a year or couples that make more than $450,000.

“That’s over. I’m in favor of doing tax reform,” McConnell told Gregory. “But it ought to be revenue neutral.”

House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Bob Schieffer of CBS’ “Face the Nation” that she didn’t believe Congress shouldn’t be finished with increasing revenue. “There’s much more we can do just be subjecting it to the scrutiny of: What is bringing in revenue and what is creating growth? … Justify your existence if you’re a special tax break,” Pelosi said, who clarified that she wouldn’t support any tax increases on the middle class.

Meanwhile, many of the other guests on Sunday talk show lamented the fact that leaders in Washington have been governing by “hostage taking” with last-minute deals on deadlines that, if missed, could shut-down the government or affect the economy.

“The inability for leaders to work to solve these problems is, itself, a big drag on the economy,” freshman independent Sen. Angus King of Maine said on “Meet the Press.” King later added that he agrees with McConnell that Obama must be more forceful in leading the discussion on spending reforms.

Earlier in that program, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming — half of the Simson-Bowles duo for whom the 2010 spending and tax reform proposal is named — said he feels sorry for McConnell when it comes to trying to negotiate the deals.

“I can’t imagine a worse place for Mitch McConnell. He apparently can’t deal with (Senate Leader Harry) Reid, and that’s a sad thing,” said Simpson, a Republican. “Now apparently poor Mitch is caught in a situation where he has to go to the vice president … Think of that. You can’t do the work of the Senate because the leaders don’t like each other.”

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

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