Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer was wrong with his recent assessment of President Barack Obama as the “new comeback kid.”
“Let me give you another point of view. I think Charles Krauthammer’s very smart, but on this, he’s totally wrong,” McConnell said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning. “The Tea Party group, FreedomWorks, that put hundreds of thousands of people on the mall, they supported the bill. Ron Paul, the most famous Tea Party type member of Congress, supported the bill. The Wall Street Journal, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, the majority of the presidential candidates of our party all supported this. Why do you think they did that? Well, they did it because it was essentially Republican policy.”
In a Washington Post op-ed this past Friday, Krauthammer said Republicans are “clearing his [Obama’s] path and sprinkling it with rose petals.”
“If Barack Obama wins reelection in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010,” Krauthammer wrote.
When State of the Union host Candy Crowley asked if he was now “BFFs [best friends forever] with the president” since working out the tax cut deal, especially after his comment before the midterm elections that his top political priority was to ensure Obama was a one-term president, McConnell said he was just doing what the American people wanted, adding that ending this debate for two years will allow Republicans to shift their focus onto cutting spending and debt in Washington.
“Well, the fact that the Republican leader of the Senate would like a Republican president a couple years from now shouldn’t be particularly surprising but what the American people are interested in what we’re going to do between now and then,” McConnell said. “This tax package was 76 percent Republican policy, 12 percent Democratic policy, so you can argue about the policy, the balance of it, and it was called a stimulus package in your intro. If you consider letting people keep their own money a stimulus, we plead guilty.”
McConnell defended his opposition to the Omnibus spending bill, though he originally supported it somewhat, by saying the only things his members agreed to in the beginning were the “top-line, the total amount that was going to be spent, and all the discretionary counts.”
“What we did not agree to was not taking a single bill across the Senate floor,” McConnell said. “What we did not agree to was the adding up of a 2,000-page bill, putting in there funding of the health care provisions that were passed last year, which we overwhelmingly oppose and passing it right before Christmas. Look, the public is sick and tired of doing business that way. So, we decided to defeat it.”
As for working with Obama on the tax cut extension legislation, McConnell said he found it “just fine.”
“If the administration believes it needs to go in a different direction, and it mirrors the things that I and my members believe is good for the country, we’re going to do it and this is a good example of that,” McConnell said. “I think the overwhelming Republican majority in the House and Senate indicates our members thought it was the right thing to do.”
McConnell said he expects to work with Obama and congressional Democrats on entitlement reform in the coming session, adding that he thinks changes to Social Security, Medicare and other similar programs need bipartisan support.