McConnell now says he favors big deal

Nov. 4, 2011 at 2:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a 180-degree turn, now says he favors a big deficit-reduction deal, Senate GOP aides said.

At the beginning of the week, Senate Republican and Democratic sources said McConnell seemed to favor a $1.2 trillion package, the minimum the supercommittee must find in deficit reductions to avoid automatic spending cuts to defense and non-defense programs. At the time, Democratic aides accused McConnell of trying to scuttle a major agreement.

By Thursday, however, McConnell indicated to colleagues he could support a big plan of $4 trillion, The Hill reported. Budget hawks said $4 trillion is the minimum to have an impact on the deficit.

A $4 trillion deal gained traction among Senate Republicans as lawmakers say they've become convinced Obama wants the deficit-reduction supercommittee to fail.

"McConnell has recalculated in the last few days," a GOP senator said.

Insiders said one obstacle to a $4 trillion deal is that tax increases would have to be included so it could draw Democratic support. GOP leaders repeatedly said higher taxes should not be part of the package, The Hill said.

Obama pushed for a large deficit-reduction package in July, but House Speaker John Boehner walked away from the tentative deal as House conservatives raised concerns about tax provisions.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told The Hill he thinks Obama is more interested in running against a do-nothing Congress instead of pushing for a major deficit deal.

"I haven't seen any signals," Kyl said when asked about whether he's seen Obama push for a larger bargain. "He might be talking to his Democratic colleagues."

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