Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed on Sunday that Republicans would force significant spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling even if President Barack Obama had to be "dragged kicking and screaming."
"What we're saying is that the biggest problem facing the country is our excessive spending," McConnell told NBC's David Gregory. "We've watched the government explode over the last four years. We've dealt with the revenue issue, and now the question is will the president lead? Why should we have to be bringing him to the table?"
Gregory pointed out that trillions of dollars in spending cuts had been part of last year's Budget Control Act and Republicans had refused to accept significant cuts in entitlement programs as a part of a larger deals offered by Democrats going back to debt ceiling negotiations in 2011.
"You can re-litigate the past if you want to," McConnell laughed. "I wish the president would lead us on the discussion rather than putting himself in the position of having to be dragged kicking and screaming to discuss the single biggest issue facing our future. You know, until we adjust the entitlements so that they meet the demographics of our country, we can't ever solve this problem. The time to solve it is now."
"The president proposed significant entitlement cuts, Simpson-Bowles said he did it, though they would have like him to have gone farther," Gregory observed. "But Republicans would not agree on revenues going back to last summer... You can't say he's been dragged kicking and screaming when he has proposed those entitlement cuts."
"No, he has not!" McConnell shot back. "He hasn't embraced any significant proposal here in public to deal with significant entitlement changes."
The Kentucky Republican also insisted that any additional revenue through tax reform would be off the table going forward.
"That's over," he explained. "I'm in favor of doing tax reform but I think tax reform ought to be revenue neutral as it was back during the Reagan years. We've resolved this issue."