McConnell: Washington has six to nine months to make progress on entitlements

Jon Ward Contributor
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he does not fault President Obama for avoiding the issue of Social Security in his State of the Union address, but cautioned that the political establishment in Washington has less than a year to make progress on entitlement reform.

“It’s right now. It’s in the next six to nine months,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in an interview with Politico’s Mike Allen.

McConnell said he thinks there is “a window here of about 6 to 9 months” before the legislative process in Washington is “overcome by the presidential campaign.”

The Republican leader said, however, that he does not think Obama is signaling disinterest by avoiding specifics on what he intends to do about reforming Social Security — much less Medicare or Medicaid — in his nationally televised address to Congress Tuesday night.

“I’m not surprised he’s not going to say what he’s going to do on entitlements. I wouldn’t either,” McConnell said, in a nod to the brutal political attacks, which come from both sides but are particularly vociferous from the left, that always greet lawmakers who propose making any changes to the existing system.

“If we’re going to do anything serious on entitlements we’re not going to negotiate it in public,” McConnell said.

The fifth-term senator was far less charitable toward the White House on the issue of regulation. McConnell essentially rejected Obama’s gesture last week to sign an executive order requiring agencies to estimate the impact on job creation of any new proposed rule or regulation.

McConnell said that the executive order does not apply to rules or decisions that are made by federal agencies as they implement the new health care overhaul and financial regulation law, which were both passed last year. The two pieces of legislation are often cited by business as two of the main drivers of the economic uncertainty that inhibits them from expanding and hiring.

“I’m in the skeptic category about whether he is serious about doing anything on over regulation,” McConnell said.

McConnell labeled the government’s regulators “left wingers on steroids” who are trying to “remake America in their own image.”

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