Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday renewed his calls to exempt tax cuts from efforts to reduce the federal deficit while mostly sidestepping questions about offsetting the lost revenue.
Appearing on Meet the Press, the Kentucky Republican worked to separate his opposition to Democrats' plans to rescind the tax breaks for top income brackets from his criticism of budget deficits under President Obama.
McConnell called the 2001 and 2003 tax reductions, which will expire without congressional action, "existing policy," and asked, "Why did it all of a sudden become something that is paid for?"
"The problem is the spending problem," he said. "If we grind down the spending, we'll begin to get a handle on this."
Ahead of the November midterm election, McConnell and other senior Republicans in public remarks have worked to balance their efforts to harness public concerns about growing federal debt and deficits with traditional GOP support for tax cuts by denying tension between those goals.
That effort was on display Sunday. Pressed on the cost of renewing the so-called Bush tax cuts, McConnell reiterated his assertion, supported by few independent economists, that rescinding tax cuts for top earners would not generate revenue.
"Raising taxes in the middle of a recession ...That isn't gonna produce more revenue," he said.
Pressed on a controversy over efforts to build a mosque in downtown Manhattan near the former World Trade Center, McConnell said Obama's remarks on the matter helped make a national story of a "local zoning issue."
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