McConnell hints that compromise is unlikely on middle class tax cuts before Nov. 2

09/26/2010 09:51 AM

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans will hold firm in their call for extending all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that are slated to expire Dec. 31 — and declined to speculate on whether Congress could compromise on at least extending cuts for middle class taxpayers.

“What might happen down the road is not the subject today,” McConnell told This Week’s Christiane Amanpour on ABC Sunday morning. “The question is: Do we want to raise taxes in the middle of a very, very tough economy?”

McConnell said the Republicans’ position against allowing any of the Bush-era tax cuts to expire has been made stronger by the 31 House Democrats and five Democratic Senators who have voiced support for that approach. Yet it is the Senate Democratic leadership who have decided not to take a vote on it before Nov. 2, McConnell said.

President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders are pushing for just the middle class tax cuts to continue and would prefer doing so before the Nov. 2 election to give their party’s candidates something to tout in their election campaigns.

Earlier in the show, Obama’s senior advisor David Axelrod told Amanpour that Republicans are holding “hostage” the tax cut extension for middle class Americans.

“I don’t believe Sen. McConnnell or anybody else is going to be willing to stand up to the American people and say, ‘We’re going to hold your tax cut hostage so that we can give another large tax cut to millionaires and billionaires that we can’t afford.”

“Nothing’s being held hostage,” McConnell later told Amanpour.

Amanpour pressed McConnell about ways to reduce the deficit.

“The two things you need to do is get spending down, and number two you’ve got to get the economy going,” McConnell said.

Amanpour peppered McConnell with questions about the upcoming mid-term elections and how so-called “insurgent” candidates with ties to the tea party movement might do in the general election. Specifically, she asked about Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, who upset longtime GOP congressman Mike Castle in a primary earlier this month.

McConnell said O’Donnell has a chance to win.

“The Delaware primary was interesting,” he said. “A new candidate. Fresh face.”

Regardless of the intra-party differences that have been exposed within the Republican primaries, McConnell said the Republican base in energized and all of them have the same objective on Nov. 2.

“None of them are going to go out and vote Democrat,” he said.

(Programming note: We will air an interview with Sen. Mitch McConnell on Monday on Pure Politics. Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only daily news program devoted to covering politics, the election and the core issues facing the state airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m./6 p.m. Central and again at 11:30/10:30 Central on Insight’s channel 2.)

- Ryan Alessi

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