Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who as recently as this week, appeared to favor the minimum $1.25 trillion deficit reduction package from the bipartisan supercommittee, has now changed his tune, according to Senate GOP sources. They tell The Hill t
hat the Kentucky senator now wants the supercommittee to go big, cutting much more from future budget deficits.
McConnell’s shift reflects growing support among Republicans for going big. Budget hawks want to see $4 trillion in deficit cuts, viewing anything smaller as essentially meaningless. Republican senators are increasingly coming to support that number, concluding that President Barack Obama wants to see the supercommittee fail.
“McConnell has recalculated in the last few days,” a Republican senator told The Hill. McConnell aides say he has always supported a deficit reduction package that would include cutbacks for entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Whether McConnell has shifted ground or not, it won’t be easy for Congress to pass a $4 trillion deal. That’s because Democrats won’t support it without major tax increases, while Republicans won’t support it with major tax increases.
In any case, Republican senators don’t want to see the supercommittee fail to reach an agreement or come up with only the minimum cuts. That could help Obama campaign against a “do nothing” Congress.
“I think governing is over for him. I think he’s no longer in the governing mode,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told The Hill. “He’s 24/7 candidate Obama, and he’s going to have to run against something, because he ain’t going to run on his record. He better run against something else.”
On Thursday, 33 Republicans sent a letter to the supercommittee urging it to recommend a deficit-reduction package big enough to balance the budget within a decade. The Republicans want the plan to include a major overhaul of the tax code, but no net tax increase. But the committee doesn’t have enough time to tackle tax reform, with the Nov. 23 deadline for it to produce a plan looming on the horizon, a knowledgeable source told The Hill.
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