Republicans ruling out further tax increases

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US SENATE minority leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out raising tax revenues on top of the tax hike on the wealthy in the “fiscal cliff” deal, and said the full focus must now be on spending cuts to curb deficits.

But Democrats said they would push for a “balanced” approach of more tax revenue from the rich as well as spending reductions as Congress headed toward another fiscal standoff in March over raising the federal debt ceiling.

“The tax issue is finished, over, completed,” Mr McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said on ABC’s This Week yesterday.

“That’s behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future, and that’s our spending addiction.”

Mr McConnell used the news show to lay out his position in the upcoming fight over raising the US debt ceiling and funding the government that is expected to come to a head in March, just three months after the struggle to avert the 1 January fiscal cliff of severe tax rises and spending cuts that economists said could have brought a recession.

Republicans want big spending cuts in programmes including Medicare healthcare for the elderly and the social security pension programme as a condition for raising the US borrowing limit.

President Barack Obama has said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, arguing that Congress must pay the bills for spending it approved.

Mr McConnell said the White House should start working with Congress immediately to determine spending, before the March deadline brings another fiscal crisis.

“We could do things very quickly, these are not new 
issues,” he said.