On Sunday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., criticized President Obama's actions in Libya as too little, too late, and Republicans continued to criticize Democrats for refusing to face the music on reducing the deficit.
Schumer: No Deficit-Reduction Plan Until GOP Abandons Ryan Plan
11:30 a.m. Speaking on Meet the Press, two leading senators, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Democratic Policy and Communications Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., indicated that budget negotiators are still seriously at odds over Medicare.
McConnell said he was “personally very comfortable with the way Paul Ryan would structure [Medicare] in the out-years,” but said the details of the proposal are still up for discussion in budget talks being led by Vice President Joe Biden. Schumer countered that “until Mitch McConnell abandons the [Ryan approach] we are not going to get a budget-reduction plan.”
Schumer disputed McConnell’s contention that the Democrats have no plan on Medicare, adding new details to the party’s approach. He said the Democrats would preserve Medicare but change elements of the program that make it a “very inefficient system,” especially the “cost-plus” system by which doctors get paid separately for different services and prescriptions as opposed to receiving a “certain amount” for individual care.
Pawlenty: Opposes Raising Debt Ceiling, Hedges on Ryan Plan
11:00 a.m. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who recently announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for president, said that he didn’t think it was necessary to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, adding that the Treasury Department had sufficient resources to pay off the debt “for some time.”
“I don’t think we should raise the debt ceiling,” Pawlenty said on ABC’s This Week, adding: “If the president and Congress move in this direction they’d better get something good for it” in spending cuts. In recent days, GOP lawmakers have urged Treasury Secretray Tim Geithner to acknowledge that he has the funds available to prevent a default on U.S. debt if the $14.3 trillion debt limit isn't raised.
Pawlenty, asked about his reported support for the deficit-cutting plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R.-Wis., declined to endorse the idea straightforwardly. “I have my own plan,” he said. “We have some differences,” saying his budget plan will address Social Security reform while Ryan’s does not. Pawlenty added, however, that if the only choice was between “doing nothing” and Ryan’s plan he would still vote for the latter.
It wasn’t clear whether Pawlenty’s view of the Ryan plan was affected by the defeat of the GOP candidate in a special election in the traditionally Republican 26th District of New York last week, a surprise outcome that largely turned on the Republican candidate’s support of Ryan’s plan.
Pawlenty’s reluctance to endorse Ryan echoes that of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another leading GOP prospect, who also says he is going to propose his own plan, one that also differs from Ryan’s.
Also on This Week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels again addressed his decision not to run for president, suggesting that it was mainly because of his daughters’ reluctance, as “young women” about to start their lives. “This was just a disruption they were very, very leery of,” he said, “And who wouldn’t understand that?”
Cantor Says Emergency Funding Will Have to Be Offset
10:45 a.m. Holding firm to his conference’s belief that any new spending needs to be offset, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said that any emergency disaster spending for the recent tornadoes and flooding would have to be paid for.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Cantor guaranteed that “Congress will have the money,” but would wait for President Obama to propose an amount for an emergency supplemental appropriations bill before finding an appropriate offset.
Cantor likened Congress to a family that in emergencies has to use savings that had been budgeted for something else, instead of just spending more.
“Families don’t have unlimited money,” he said.
Coburn Says Massive Mandatory Cuts Needed to Solve Deficit Problem
10:20 a.m. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on Sunday defended his decision to walk away from the “Gang of Six” deficit-reduction talks, saying the group of three Democratic and three Republican Senators “couldn’t move in a direction I thought we had to move.”
Appearing on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers program, Coburn said the group’s inability to extract massive savings from mandatory spending programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security is what lead to the impasse.
“It doesn’t have any credibility if it doesn’t fix the real problem,” Coburn said, stressing that reducing the deficit cannot be achieved by just cuts to discretionary spending.
He did, however, leave the door open for a tax-reform proposal that raised revenues, acknowledging the need for compromise with Democrats who would like to raise revenues by closing special-interest tax breaks.
Coburn said he will instead spend his time figuring out a plan to cut $9.7 trillion over the next 10 years, the amount that is “needed,” and “way more than anyone’s talking about.”
Referencing the arguments made over the role the House GOP's proposal to convert Medicare to a subsidized voucher system played in the special election in New York's 26th House District, Coburn accused Democrats of deploying scare tactics to score the upset in a heavily Republican district.
"It is a lie to tell people that Medicare is going to be the same five years from now.… It’s a financial impossibility," he said.
McCain Says He’s "Very Worried" About Afghan Withdrawal Sentiment
10:00 a.m. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on Sunday that while he’s glad to see President Obama gradually stepping up U.S. involvement in Libya, it’s still too little too late.
“This thing could have been over a long time ago if we had brought the full weight of our military to bear,” McCain said on Fox News Sunday. “I’m glad to see him gradually changing” his position, “but the fact is that as he is gradually changing, people are dying on the ground in Libya.”
McCain also said he differed with Defense Secretary Robert Gates over whether the United States ought to openly back the Libya rebels battling the regime of Muammar el-Qaddafi, saying that the longer the stalemate continues the more likely it was that Islamist extremists would come to the fore in the insurgency. “The best way to get extremists ... is a stalemate,” he said.
At the G-8 Summit in Deauville, France, last week, Obama said the United States and NATO would continue to apply pressure on Qaddafi’s regime until they “finish the job.”
On Afghanistan, McCain said he was worried about the growing sentiment in the United States for a faster pullout from Afghanistan in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden. “I am greatly worried,” McCain told host Chris Wallace. “We shouldn’t ignore the lessons of history…. I’ve seen this movie before." McCain likened the current withdrawal sentiment to 2007, when many Americans and U.S. political leaders wanted a fast pullout from Iraq before the "surge" strategy of President George W. Bush began to take effect.
Asked about the GOP presidential race in 2012, McCain also sounded sanguine about the prospects of his former 2008 running mate, Sarah Palin, who remains unannounced but plans to make an appearance at the Sunday motorcycle ride in Washington sponsored by Rolling Thunder, a group that raises awareness of prisoners of war and those missing in action. “She certainly is a major factor, and I believe she can be very competitive,” McCain said, adding, “I’ve never seen anyone as mercilessly and relentlessly attacked as Sarah Palin has been in recent years.”