McConnell said on NBC's "Meet the Press" there might be faster progress on the economy had the nation elected Mitt Romney president and given the GOP a majority in both houses of Congress, but that was not the case.
"This is the government we have," McConnell said. "Can we make some progress for the country over the next two years? I'm hopeful we can."
McConnell said the only real bipartisan sentiment in Congress was the a desire to not raise taxes, and that issue had been put to rest by the recent agreement on the so-called fiscal cliff.
"I would hope the president would step up to the plate here and say, we need to do something about this spending addiction, and I'm going to lead the way," McConnell said.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson, who co-chaired the Simpson-Bowles commission in deficit reduction, agreed it was time to tackle the thorny issue of entitlement spending, which would not be easy for either party.
"The president ignored it, and the Congress has ignored it, because they won't do the big stuff," he said. "The big stuff has to get done. This other stuff is nothing."