Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Republicans expected President Obama to offer “something significant” in exchange for a debt-limit hike, calling the White House insistence on a bill free of conditions “irresponsible.”
“I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling when we have a debt the size of our economy is irresponsible,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt or produces at least something positive for our country.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called on Congress to raise the limit by Feb. 7. Obama has demanded a “clean” debt ceiling hike, but GOP lawmakers want to tie the debt ceiling to spending cuts or entitlement reforms.
McConnell said that lawmakers had regularly tied key legislation to the debt limit.
“Some of the most significant legislation passed in the last 50 years have been in conjunction with the deficit,” said McConnell.
“The president is taking an unreasonable position,” he continued. “We ought to attach something significant for the country to his request to increase the debt ceiling. That has been the pattern for 50 years.”
“We’re never going to default,” McConnell added. “The Speaker [John Boehner, R-Ohio] and I have made that clear.”
McConnell, looking ahead, to the president’s Tuesday State of the Union, also said he hoped Obama would “go in a different direction” on the economy.
“We’re in the sixth year of the Obama economy. More spending, more borrowing, more debt, more regulation,” said McConnell.
“There are some job creating steps he could take right now. He could approve the Keystone pipeline. He could work with us on trade agreements,” he added.
Obama has vowed that 2014 will be a “year of action” on the economy and will offer a number of proposals -- including executive actions if Congress fails to pass his policy agenda.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday said Obama would present “concrete” proposals on income inequality.
McConnell criticized Obama’s vow to bypass Congress with executive actions, saying that past presidents had managed to work with their political opponents.
“Frequently times of divided government are quite good times in terms of achieving things for the American people,” he said.
“This president it seems to me after the 2010 election, when the American public issued shall we say a ‘restraining order’ has sort of hung out on the left trying to get what he wants through the bureaucracy as opposed to moving to the political center,” said McConnell.