I interviewed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday night’s Kudlow Report. When I asked him about that day’s shutdown meeting at the White House, McConnell described it as “unproductive.” Here’s a report on the interview by CNBC desk producer Elizabeth Schulze, and the video, too:
Washington is still far from resolving its differences over the fight to reopen the U.S. government.
That’s according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” following a meeting at the White House Wednesday night.
“It was cordial but unproductive,” McConnell said. “The President continues to maintain privately the position that he has had publicly, which is he doesn’t want to negotiate about the continuing resolution to operate the government or over raising the debt ceiling.”
After a two-hour meeting with President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. McConnell offered no timeline for Congress to pass legislation to end the government shutdown.
“Obama can’t get his way exactly the way he likes it,” McConnell said. “The American people expect us to come together and figure out how to solve this problem and sooner or later, we’re going to do that.”
“The shutdown will end,” he added. “Nobody is in favor of a government shutdown, but these are important principles that we are fighting for, for the American people. We obviously want to continue the operation of the government, but we want to keep it within constraints with the Budget Control Act.”
McConnell insisted on maintaining spending levels under the Budget Control Act, the 2011 law which created sequestration. Tax increases to reopen the government, he said, are off the table.
“We don’t want to walk away from the spending reductions we have already promised the American people for the next two years,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the Bush tax cuts are now permanent law. We don’t want to walk away from the permanent tax relief that we achieved New Year’s Eve. “
McConnell shifted the debate to the debt ceiling, saying “America is not going to default on its debts.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that the government’s flexibility to continue to fund itself without additional debt will end around Oct. 17.
“Our view is it’s time to talk to eliminate the government shutdown, to find out what conditions need to be attached to raise the debt ceiling so the full faith and credit of the United States continues to be honored,” McConnell said. “But we also need to do something about this enormous debt that has been accumulated during the Obama years.”
In response to President Obama’s insistence on a “clean” budget proposal in an interview on CNBC earlier Wednesday, McConnell said the President’s position is “unacceptable.”
“The President’s position so far is that he wants it clean no matter what,” McConnell said. “I think that’s an unacceptable position for Senate and House Republicans. It should be an unacceptable position for the American people.”
McConnell said the President fails to recognize that the American people elected a divided government under the assumption that both parties would negotiate.
“There will have to be a compromise no matter what the President says today because his party doesn’t control the entire government,” he said. “The American people have frequently elected a divided government. When they do that, they don’t expect us to do nothing, to not talk to each other.”
Senate Democrats, McConnell said, are reinforcing the stalemate in their refusal to negotiate with House Republicans.
“The House has sent over a number of different proposals, including the last one to go to conference and have a discussion about this,” he said. “Senate Democrats voted that down, too. Who’s being unreasonable here?”