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Mitch McConnell: New taxes off the table

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did not back

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did not back off earlier statements that the GOP would use the United States debt limit as a bargaining chip to get the president and his party to agree to more spending cuts. (Jan. 6, 2013) Credit: NBC Meet The Press

WASHINGTON - With looming deadlines on the nation's federal borrowing limit and delayed across-the-board budget cuts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said yesterday that discussions about new taxes are off the table in the upcoming debate, and that reining in government spending must be the focal point.

"You will not accept any new revenues in any new deal?" asked George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' "This Week." "Yeah, absolutely," McConnell said. "The tax issue is behind us. Now, the question is what are we going to do about the real problem . . . Now it's time to pivot and turn to the real issue, which is our spending addiction."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagreed on taxes, arguing that looking at loopholes and deductions as a means of raising new revenue should remain part of the debate.

"The president had said originally he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue; he took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side," Pelosi said on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

After agreeing to raise tax rates on wealthy Americans as part of the recent deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," some Republicans appear to believe they have leverage in the next debate over the debt ceiling, which will reach a critical point at the end of next month. GOP leaders are demanding substantial spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the limit. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has warned he will not negotiate with the GOP over the $16.4 trillion limit.

While some Republicans appear hesitant to entertain the possibility of using a government shutdown or the debt ceiling as bargaining chips, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrote last week that he was open to the possibility of a partial shutdown for the long-term fiscal stability of the country, if lawmakers don't come to terms on meaningful spending cuts. McConnell said he hoped a deal to address spending could be reached before the government approached the pointof defaulting.

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