Meet the Press | January 06, 2013
>> me now. leader mcconnell, happy new year. welcome back to "meet the press."
>> good morning, david.
>> let me talk about a preview of coming attractions and the fights ahead, including the debt ceiling that was so bitterly contested back in the summer of 2011 . here is something you said in august of 2011 that i wanted to show our viewers and have you respond to. you said then, i think some of our members may have thought the default on paying america 's bills issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. most of us don't think that. what we did learn is this. it's a hostage that's worth ransoming. is that the strategy for the coming fight over the debt ceiling?
>> well, first, these last-minute deals are no way to run the government. i can tell you that. we know what the problem is. you're going to have al simpson and erskine bowles on. they have talked about this for a couple of years now. we have a spending problem. you know, we have a debt the size of our economy, which makes us look a lot like greece. this administration has driven spending as a percentage of our economy from 21% up to almost 25%. we've resolved the tax issue now. it's over. it's behind us. we were able to get permanent tax relief for 99% of american taxpayers. and for 500,000 small businesses. so that's behind us. what's left to be dealt with is the spending. and it's a shame that the president doesn't embrace the effort to reduce spending. none of us like using these situations like the sequester or the debt ceiling or the operation of government to try to engage the president to deal with this. but --
>> but you said that was a strategy, that's what you learned. i want to come back to the question. it's a hostage that's worth ransoming, the debt ceiling of the united states government . is that the strategy that you would ransom that here again to force the kind of spending cuts that you think are necessary?
>> it's a shame that we have to use whatever leverage we have in congress to get the president to deal with the biggest problem confronting our future. and that's our excessive spending.
>> but you're conceding that that may be the strategy this time?
>> well, what the strategy ought to be is we ought to be doing something about the problem.
>> well, i understand that. but there are additional problems as well that flow from that. as you know, after the debt ceiling was resolved in the summer of 2011 , america 's credit rating was downgraded. johningler was the republican governor of michigan and said the following. he said this is to bloomberg news. it's a terribly blunt, clumsy instrument to try to use. it's not a good weapon for anything except destroying our own credit rating . so i understand your views about spending, and we can continue on that. but just as a matter of how you try to force those spending cuts, you heard the president. he said he will not negotiate over increasing the debt ceiling. you're saying despite whatever the business community thinks, you may have to push it to the brink once again.
>> what we're seeing here is the problem, the biggest problem confronting the country, is our excessive spending. if we're not going to deal with it now, when are we going to deal with it? we have watched the government explode over the last four years. we've dealt with the revenue issue. now the question is, will the president lead? you know, why should we have to be bringing him to the table? why isn't he leading us in the direction of beginning to solve our long-term debt and deficit problem? it's perplexing to me. that the president of the united states , elected to lead the country, is so reluctant to engage on the most important issue regarding our future.
>> but you understand what the president told me last week and other democrats have said, the republicans had a chance to say yes to a number of things, in addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts that were en80ed as part of the budget control act of last year. they could have had additional cuts in entitlement programs if you had agreed before you did it in this temporary measure. going back to the summer of 2011 , the president said to all of you republican leaders, if you didn't have such a hard time saying yes to me as president we could have solved some of these issues why. is he off base about that?
>> you can relitigate the past if you want to. where we are now is we have resolved the revenue issue, and the question is, what are we going to do about spending? i wish the president would lead us in this discussion, rather than putting himself in a position of having to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table to discuss the single biggest issue confronting our future. you know, until we adjust the entitlements so that they meet the demographics of our country, we can't ever solve this problem. the time to solve it is now. presidential leadership is desperately needed. we know he's good at campaigning. but when does he put the campaign aside and start governing and addressing the single biggest issue confronting america ?