John McCain: American people ‘don’t want compromise’ on deficit

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain told CNN Sunday that the American people “don’t want compromise” on any deficit reduction deal that includes a tax increase.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” the 2008 Republican nominee for president told host Candy Crowley: “The principle of not raising taxes is something that we [Republicans] campaigned on last November and the results of the election was the American people don’t want their taxes raised and they wanted us to cut spending. They don’t want compromise.”

(McCain and Lieberman concerned about Afghanistan drawdown)

The issue of tax increases has frustrated both sides of the aisle. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia walked out of debt ceiling negotiations, which Republicans have tied to a deficit reduction deal, over the issue. Cantor said he wouldn’t take part in any negotiations until any potential tax increases were taken off the table.

President Obama, despite leaving the negotiations to Vice President Joe Biden, called out his political opponents for refusing to make “tough decisions” on the deficit deal in a press conference last week.

Obama and other Democratic leaders have excoriated Republicans for not listening to warnings that the country could face a major economic disaster should the debt ceiling not be raised by August 2.

McCain doesn’t seem worried by the prospect. “I think that this catastrophe or short-term meltdown that we’re facing isn’t nearly as bad as the meltdown that we’re facing unless we get our deficit under control,” he said.

Right now, chances of getting either the debt ceiling or the deficit under control look dim, with most Republicans refusing any deal that includes a tax increase and most Democrats refusing any deal that doesn’t.

In the interview with CNN, McCain was also critical of President Obama’s decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan early, which the senator referred to as “an unnecessary risk.”

“The fact is there is no recommendation by any military person to have this early withdrawal, and it’s an unnecessary risk,” McCain said.

When asked if he thought the decision to withdraw was made for political reasons, as House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers suggested on “State of the Union” a week earlier, McCain said no. “Look, I question whether this was the right decision or not, but I can’t question the president’s patriotism,” he said.