At the eleventh hour, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), the minority leader, has become the leading figure in the debt-limit talks. With Vice President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, he negotiated the final contours of the compromise that will soon come to the floor in both chambers.
In an interview with National Review Online this afternoon, McConnell explained his approach and touted the bipartisan agreement. “It is a good first step — $3 trillion dollars, potentially, in spending cuts, no tax increases, and remember, we have set the template for future requests from any president to raise the debt ceiling,” he said. “What we have done here is completely change the conversation. . . . We have dragged this administration, kicking and screaming, in a direction of cutting spending and not raising taxes.”
“It would not have happened but for last November’s election,” McConnell added. “I’m grateful even for members of our conference in the House and Senate who end up voting against it, because without them, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”
McConnell smiled when asked about presidential candidates, such as Mitt Romney, who oppose the deal. “They’re running for president; we are running the government,” he said. “We are part of a governing coalition here. We have divided goverment. Who would have ever dreamed that controlling one house, having a minority in the Senate, we would have been able to get a liberal president to sign on to $3 trillion in spending cuts with no taxes? Nobody would have thought that was possible.”