McConnell Bumbles When Asked For GOP Alternative To Obama’s Budget: We’re ‘Getting Down In The Weeds’

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"McConnell Bumbles When Asked For GOP Alternative To Obama’s Budget: We’re ‘Getting Down In The Weeds’"

Since President Obama unveiled his budget last month, Republicans have been relentlessly attacking his comprehensive proposals. Last week, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that Obama “should be focusing on the ‘economic crisis,’ as opposed to holding four-hour meetings on health care.” Today on ABC’s This Week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) kept up the drumbeat, saying, “It taxes too much, it spends too much, it borrows too much.”

However, host George Stephanopoulos repeatedly pressed McConnell for a comprehensive Republican alternative budget. Each time, McConnell simply attacked Obama’s plan. He said that he and his colleagues would be offering amendments to “reframe” what the Democrats have proposed, but don’t plan on offering a comprehensive plan:

McCONNELL: [W]e are going to offer a number of amendments to the Democratic proposal. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: But shouldn’t you have a comprehensive approach that lays out the trade-offs? If you just have rifle-shot amendments, you don’t have to make all the trade-offs that you have to make in an overall budget.

McCONNELL: Well, we’re just sort of getting down in the weeds here about procedure. Through the amendment process, we would absolutely reformulate the Democratic plan. Whether you have a comprehensive approach or whether you offer an amendment is something a parliamentarian can debate.

Watch it:

As the New York Times has pointed out, by not offering a full counterproposal, Republicans have made a decision “that will spare them from outlining potentially painful decisions required to bring federal books more in line with their call to hold down spending, cut taxes and reduce the deficit.” What they are instead offering is “a steady stream of complaints.”

In many ways, their strategy is a repeat of what they did during the economic recovery debate. Republicans largely opposed Obama’s plan for political reasons, picking out small provisions as excuses to oppose the entire bill. The Progress Report has more here on why, despite McConnell’s complaints, it is possible walk and chew gum at the same time.

Transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, will the Republicans in the Senate be providing an alternative budget?

McCONNELL: Well, first let’s take a look at the budget the President is offering. That’s his responsibility. The majority has a responsibility to lay out their plan, George, for the next few years, and they’ve done it. It will double the national debt in five years, and triple the national debt in 10 years. It taxes too much, it spends too much, it borrows too much — as you indicated, what I have said, and what my colleagues have said repeatedly.

And it does what the President’s chief of staff — and he was pretty candid about it — they’re taking advantage of a crisis in order to do things that had nothing to do with getting us into the crisis. They want to have a massive expansion of health care, an energy tax — which many people are now calling a “light switch tax,” another $600 billion — it’s sort of a bait and switch.

What we really ought to be doing here is concentrating on fixing the financial system — which you did ask about Secretary Summers about a good bit — and the housing problem. Not using this crisis as an excuse to go on an explosion of spending.

One other point. We have already authorized this year, in the first 50 days of this administration, spending at the rate of $24 billion a day, or a $1 billion an hour. Another way of looking at it — just putting it in context — this $1.2 trillion that we’ve spent in the first 50 days is more than the previous administration spent after 9/11 on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the response to Katrina.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well senator, there’s a lot of criticism there, but no alternative. And the Democratic party and the White House are going to make a real push to paint you as the “Just Say No” party. Look at what the DNC has put up on its website. They have this clock showing that it’s been 16 days, 20 hours, and 18 minutes and counting since you’ve had a budget. An outside group, Americans United for Change, are putting out this ad this morning, making the same point. Listen.

[AD PLAYS]

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you worried about that attack?

McCONNELL: No, we are going to offer a number of amendments to the Democratic proposal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But no comprehensive budget?

McCONNELL: Well, it will reframe what the Democrats recommend for America over the next 5-10 years. And I assure you that the amendments we offer will not lay out a blueprint for doubling the national debt in 5 years, and tripling it in 10 years. That’s what we think.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But shouldn’t you have a comprehensive approach that lays out the trade-offs? If you just have rifle-shot amendments, you don’t have to make all the trade-offs that you have to make in an overall budget.

McCONNELL: Well, we’re just sort of getting down in the weeds here about procedure. Through the amendment process, we would absolutely reformulate the Democratic plan. Whether you have a comprehensive approach or whether you offer an amendment is something a parliamentarian can debate.

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