Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gives President Obama’s overall speech last night a positive rating, he found suggestions for spending cuts “totally inadequate” and instead proposed – as the House of Representatives did Tuesday – that spending be returned to 2008 levels.
“To freeze spending at this high level we've achieved over the last two years is totally inadequate and I think we are bound for some disagreements on the issue of reducing our annual debt,” McConnell said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown. “Running in excess of a trillion dollar deficits has really got to stop.”
Hosts Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd pushed him on whether it’s appropriate to freeze the budget while spending on investments in education and infrastructure, a case the president made last night. “Let’s make sure that what we’re cutting is really excess weight,” Obama said during the State of the Union. “Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact.”
To that, McConnell said the president’s proposals only make sense if the budget was frozen at a lower rate of spending. “He’s talking about freezing at a historically high spending rate,” said McConnell and instead pressed for a return to 2008 levels.
McConnell was not alone among Republicans in finding the spending cut proposals to be wanting.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, called the investment proposals little more than “doubling down on the stimulus” and said they would only force the country into more debt. “That's not going to save the country from bankruptcy. We cannot be competitive with the Chinese if all we're going to do is borrow their money,” he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Later in the show, newly minted Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said, “The president does worry me that he still wants to spend a lot of money. He's calling it an investment now but that means spending. That's what they called the stimulus bill.”
McConnell on MSNBC's Daily Rundown
In fact, it was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who had the nicest things to say about the president’s speech.
“You know, there’s a lot of areas that [Obama] and I will disagree. I think I'll probably want to cut spending more than he does. I have a different view on how we improve health care in this country. But I do think that the president put forward some ideas that we Republicans can work with him on,” Cantor said.