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Mitch McConnell
Sen. Mitch McConnell (Jim Young/Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted this weekend that he, at least, isn't willing to go back to war with Democrats over how to pay for the payroll tax cut extension bill. That issue has been nearly as problematic for Congress to work out as the House Republicans' insistence on making dumb political points with totally unrelated riders. Keystone XL pipeline, anyone?

Democrats have pushed a surtax on millionaires to pay for the extension, while Republicans have wanted to slash spending elsewhere. The Senate Republicans tried to just to get on with the negotiations and keep the House from making all Republicans look bad by refusing to allow tax breaks for the middle class.

Now there is just a hint of softening in that position. On CNN's State of the Union this weekend, host Candy Crowley asked McConnell whether it would be possible to pay, at least partially, for the tax holiday extension with tax increases on the wealthy. He didn't rule it out, but instead tried to change the subject to the deficit.

“Would you pay for it partially with any kind of tax increase? Would you agree to that?” McConnell was asked by CNN’s “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley.

“We have this problem, at the risk of being repetitious, because we spend way too much. We now have a debt the size of our economy. [...]

Crowley pressed, “But you're not saying no, which is interesting to me. ... Usually you all flatly rule out any kind of tax increase and you're not.”

“I'm not going to negotiate this agreement with you this morning, but I want the American people to understand that we now have a debt the size of our economy,” McConnell said.

It's not a done deal by any means, but McConnell's refusal to rule out the tax hike on millionaires is movement. The payroll tax cut extension isn't the only issue here, as the bill also includes an extension of unemployment benefits and funding to prevent a 27 percent cut to physicians and providers for Medicare patients.

Back in November, McConnell was absolutely refusing to consider it. McConnell wants to get this negotiating done and out of the way, understanding just how much damage was done by House Republicans and their shenanigans. This is an advantage Democrats need to press, and they need to press it by keeping the hugely popular millionaires' surtax alive.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 08:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (34+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 08:39:19 AM PST

  •  Hope springs eternal? (16+ / 0-)

    Nope springs eternal is more like it. Why do we fall for this? He'll get a call from Rush, be told to say he was "misquoted" and say he meant that taxes are evil.

    "What profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" Paul 8:36

    From the Gospel of St. Ron Paul in the Teachings and Misunderstandings of the Words of Adam Smith

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 08:42:47 AM PST

  •  Running against congress is 'IN' this year. (8+ / 0-)
  •  More Lucy & football (12+ / 0-)

    I wouldn't trust that sumbitch until his turtle-faced ass is sent firmly to retirement - and even then it's not good enough, as witness Dick Armey's stooge organisation.

  •  Somewhat Reassuring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B

    That he at least understands that the purpose of being a Senator is to legislate, not just obstruct. But as the diarist points out, he really doesn't understand/care enough about what our economic woes are to actually get to a solution.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 08:59:53 AM PST

  •  He's trying to create the narrative (28+ / 0-)

    that the GOP is willing to compromise in the media. The media will lap it up and when the GOP not only refuses to compromise but tries even harder to get their own way the media will talk about how the GOP tried to compromise.

    As stupid as the GOP is they are smart enough to know that the media is even more stupid.

    I was Rambo in the disco/ I was shootin' to the beat/ When they burned me in effigy My vacation was complete. Neil Young

    by Mike S on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 09:01:26 AM PST

    •  this seems quite likely. eom (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marjmar, Philpm, sunbro, Mr MadAsHell, Matt Z

      "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

      by joey c on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 09:18:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Se. McConnell is a trojan turtle. He reads polls. (0+ / 0-)

        He knows much of the public doesn't think his Republicans are being at all bipartisan and he sees Congress dropping into single digits on respect. (It's pretty clear which particular digit is usually invoked.)

        So Yes, McConnell now must grab the mantle of the apparently reasonable leader. Senators of all vintages and stripes, all flavors and favors, have perfected the art of building so many hedges into what they say and he can concoct many more. The Senate Minority Leader is not entitled to credibility.

        Here is McConnell speaking to the Heritage Foundation after the 2010 election, remarks which he was eager to repeat again and again throughout early 2011:

        "Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny Barack Obama a second term." Heritage Foundation
        "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term president." National Journal interview, October 23, 2010.
        He doubled up on the Journal quote in a Fox News interview by saying that was the goal of "every Republican in the country."

        These remarks are proving more and more toxic as the highly negative GOP Presidential campaign, the do-nothing GOP House and the filiblusterating GOP uber-minority in the Senate blocks all manner of appointments, bill language it didn't like from the previous Congress, compromises over legislation closely patterned on what Republicans had sponsored in previous sessions.

        With Barack Obama's State of the Union speech presaging so well the Democratic campaign to come, McConnell must now work desperately to find counter-quotes he and his Senators can point to.

        Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

        by TRPChicago on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:35:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  also, "trojan turtles" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a gilas girl

          will one day, god willing, be the name of a famous rock band.

          "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

          by joey c on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:47:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  better than the name of a brand of condoms (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joey c

            trojan turtles does not seem like it would be comfortable for either participant

            "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

            When I look at the economy, I think Obama can't win; when I look at the Republicons I think he can't lose. And the economy is getting better. h/t Paul Begala

            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 02:30:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I certainly agree. The GOP's "mastery" of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluegrass50, jimreyn, Matt Z

      msm messaging, at least up til now, is undeniable.

      However, I thought this bit was very interesting:

      Candy Crowley asked McConnell whether it would be possible to pay, at least partially, for the tax holiday extension with tax increases on the wealthy. He didn't rule it out, but instead tried to change the subject to the deficit.

      I'm not quite sure I'd characterize that as an attempt "to change the subject."  It may simply be an attempt to begin a new narrative and reframe the message.

      I think it's highly unlikely that McTurtle and the GOP would go along with tax increases on the wealthy...to "pay for" relief/breaks for the rest of us.  However, if McTurtle and Co. do go along with tax increases on the wealthy, they may well demand more cuts to all the things they hate, and then demand any new revenue be dedicated to paying down the debt.  'Cause deficits don't matter until a Democrat occupies the W.H....

      So, shorter:  Sure, they'll "compromise" and raise taxes on the wealthy some measely %, and demand even more austere cuts to the social safety net, in exchange.

      "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

      by Marjmar on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 10:00:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  May be way to deflect Buffett Rule (0+ / 0-)

      If GOP seems to support this one year plan, they would argue How many times are you going to try and get more from an exhausted well.  

      The past, present, and future are equally compelling; none of the three are easily understood.

      by Grey Panther on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:01:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I actually watched this interview (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      714day

      I hate broadcast/cable news but this was on at the gym...

      What a horrible interview.  I shouldn't be surprised the way Crowley conducted the interview isn't unique to her.

      Still.  All she did was ask a question, let him lie or play loose with the facts, and then ask another question.

      If she asked him one follow up, or corrected even one lie, I missed it.

      Do these "journalists" do their homework before an interview or are they just stupid and don't follow up because they are lazy and don't know when someone is telling lies?

      Also, I can kill you with my brain.

      by Puffin on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:25:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Turtles sweat? Who knew? n/t (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, ontheleftcoast, jimreyn, ferg, Matt Z

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 09:20:34 AM PST

  •  you know things are bad (7+ / 0-)

    when "he didn't reiterate a mind-numbingly stupid partisan sticking point which has prevented any work from being done for over a calendar year, and thus his interview might be construed to suggest a slight relenting from the GOP's policy of setting stubbornness records" is cause for guarded optimism.

    "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

    by joey c on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 09:21:15 AM PST

  •  It rather frightens me that folks as ignorant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm

    as McConnell (and Boehner, and Ryan and Rush and...etc.) have so much power. Okay, they're either ignorant or intentionally lying. Or perhaps a bit of both. But why do we keep electing such clowns (apart from Rush of course, who, like Grover Norquist, serves as a surrogate dictator) when there may be decent, honest and well-informed people available? I know the answer of course; the 1% want clowns in office because clowns are easier to manipulate and make it easier to manipulate the electorate.

  •  I see no evidence in this diary that he is (4+ / 0-)

    reconsidering anything.  He is just playing rope-a-dope.  He is well practiced in the art.

    He said he won't discuss it - that means he does not want to come across as uncompromising.

    He said he wants people to understand the size of the debt. that means he will reject taxes and push for spending cuts, like he always does.

    We have seen this movie way too many times.  And the end doesn't change.

    •  Not only the diary, but the interview itself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluegrass50

      seemed to offer nothing new. He jumped off the dime and avoided answering the question. Same 'ol, same 'ol.
      If anyone is reading a possible change in the obstructive wind, they are clapping for Tinkerbell.

  •  Caving? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GRLionsFan

    If there is any caving to be done, then Harry Reid is the guy who will do it.

  •  Perhaps the Example Provided by Mitt Romney (0+ / 0-)

    has undermined the Republican resolve to fight to the bitter end over protecting people like him?

  •  It's a Perfect Compromise for Them Because It (0+ / 0-)

    takes economic injustice out of the national conversation while sustaining the flood of the peopple's wealth up to rich indefinitely.

    They know this, it's just a matter of timing.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:33:18 PM PST

  •  The FICA tac cut begins the end of Social Security (1+ / 0-)

    So, why would Mitch oppose it. Don't Kos readers recognize theater?

  •  Why is this proposal always characterized (0+ / 0-)

    as a "tax hike on millionaires"?

    And then when the actual nuts and bolts are given, it turns out that the proposal actually applies to annual income over $1,000,000 . .. .

    The two things are, or at least could be, quite different.  

    So why is the overly-inflammatory (and incorrect!) description used?

  •  But...who cares? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B

    The senate has always been more mature about things (close eyes and forget Rand Paul exists).  But the House?  How is that going to go through the house?  So what if the senate would approve it?  Funding comes from the house, not the senate, and unlike their perhaps sane older brothers, they are batshit crazy.

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:42:05 PM PST

    •  oops. Maybe I can answer my own question. (0+ / 0-)

      If 2012 does the expected (and let's be honest, it usually does), we will lose the Senate and gain the House.  In that case, this could be a big deal.

      Of course, he may just be saying this knowing that the house will never move it...

      Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

      by lostboyjim on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:55:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thank you Mitch (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B, crystalboy, TrueBlueMajority

    I think I've got it.  Mitt Romney makes $57,000.00 A DAY and of every dollar of that he only pays 13.5 cents in taxes.  I make 26,000.00 A YEAR and of every dollar of that I pay 25 cents in taxes.

    I'm beginning to see where the deficit is coming from!!!!!

    Thank you for pointing out CONTINUALLY that we have a deficit problem, because I now see what is causing that.

  •  I'm amazed at this (0+ / 0-)

    There is no value in specifically identigying specific wealthy indivduals in paying more taxes.  What needs to happen is to "correct" the IRS code so that the most wealthy in our country aren't able to use that very code to keep from paying what most folks in our country call their "fair share".  What I'm saying here is that by specifically identifying the rich as less-than-good citizens for not paying their fair share of taxes, why not just make the IRS code and the exemptions and the deductions that the rich realize more accomodzating to the best interests of our country?  Now, doesn't that sound better?  

    It's time to take away all of those IRS exemptions and exemptions that are being taken advantage of by the more wealthy in our nation.  I know, I know....that is a tough nut to crack because a great many of our legislators that would be involved in making such a change in that code also are very rich...and that would be a great many of our fellow democrats.  

    If "our" party is serious about this, they'll do this.  If they are just about presenting spin and rhetoric about it and doing nothing that will eventually actaully affect our dems personally in congress...they'll get it done.  I'm not so sure there is that much true belief in this, to be honest because truth be known, the vast majority of the most wealthy congresspeople in our government are democrats.  

    Someone tell me I'm wrong here.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:43:28 PM PST

    •  yes, but (0+ / 0-)

      In addition to all of your good points, the top marginal rate does need to be increased.

      •  I don't care, I just want to kick me some (0+ / 0-)

        millionaire ass. (Politically speaking, of course.)
        Seriously, we should tell the Dems to stop calling it a "millionaire's tax".
        It's sort of like when they say they're "down low" with the "hippity hop music."

        Yes, we should end the carried interest exemption. Yes, we expect the superwealthy to pay more.

        No, we do not want to punish "millionaires" for being millionaires.

        We want sustainable capitalism and a sustainable civilization.

    •  APT. Automated payment transaction tax (0+ / 0-)

      The idea is simple: eliminate all income taxes, capital gains taxes, sales taxes, all of it. Replace it with a single tax on all electronic transactions at a flat rate. Every time the money moves, it gets taxed. I really like this idea.

      http://www.apttax.com/

      It's not 11th dimensional chess; it's just chess. And he's KICKING YOUR ASS.

      by pneuma on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 02:38:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like Bill Clinton's take on Mitch in ESQUIRE MAG (6+ / 0-)

    this month:  "I think Mitch McConnell doesn't want to do it 'cause he's afraid it'll work."

    Yup.  Sums up the entire GOP.  They don't want to do anything that would work for Americans.  In fact, just the opposite.

    Time to get rid of as many as possible in November and keep 'em out in 2014 and beyond.

    THE GOP SUX.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!!!

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:43:31 PM PST

  •  Want to see what some of the Money People are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    actually saying about all this?

    Why Won't The Fed Tell Congress the Truth About Our Debt?

    The Federal Reserve knows full well that solvency is not an issue for the government of the United States, short term or long term.

    It knows as operational fact there is no such thing as the U.S. government ‘running out of money' or 'being dependent on China' for funding. Or 'leaving the tab to our grand children.'

    The Fed knows debt management is nothing more than shifting dollar balances between reserve accounts at the fed to securities accounts at the Fed, and that paying off the debt is nothing more than shifting dollar balances from securities accounts at the Fed to reserve accounts at the Fed, with no grand children involved.

    And the Fed knows that they, and not markets, necessarily set interest rates by voting on them, as the fed is the monopoly supplier of clearing balances (reserves) for the banking system and therefore what's called 'price setter' in economics 101.

    In other words, the Fed knows the U.S. can't be the next Greece, as politicians from all sides continuously warn and fear monger. They know that Greece and the other eurozone member nations are in the position of US states, currency users, not the federal government, the issuer of its currency. And they know that the ECB is the currency issuer for the euro, and, like the U.S. government, its expenditures are not revenue constrained.

    And yet the Fed remains silent when Congress allows this misinformation to determine public policy.

    http://www.cnbc.com/...

    There's enough of everything that matters to go all the way around the table, if only we can keep the pigs in Suits from eating all but one of the chops and chocolate chip cookies and then suckering the rest of us into fighting over the crumbs...

    Class warfare, my ass.

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:43:36 PM PST

  •  Sorry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl, TrueBlueMajority

    not buying it.  When the head of the Republican National Committee compares President Obama to the cruise ship captain who abandoned his ship and is not called on it, I don't buy that Mitch is softening.  

    He's just playing 'possum.

  •  If McConnell had lips, I'd say he's lying. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority

    He doesn't have lips, but he's lying anyway.

    The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:56:40 PM PST

  •  If you signed the Pledge, you're out on the Ledge! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    singe

    It is time to re-intimidate all the signers of the Pledge, and warn them that their allegiance is to America, not to Grover Norquist, and that they will be summarily relieved of their duties if they refuse to tax all Americans fairly.

    NOW, what do I do, start a new pledge? Who knows how to circulate this message to the Republicans who were so threatened by the Lobbyist?

    Make them repent! They are afraid of a bogeyman with lots of money. Is that how they run our government?

    Let's a million of us call their offices and ask if they signed the pledge, and what they intend to do about it. This is a talking point, maybe a platform plank, maybe a referendum.

    Not just for the presidential race, but we need the Senate  and the House, and this is the most glaring divide between Americans. (Half the 99% are supporting the 1% for some reason.)

    Help!

    Honesty is not a policy, it's a character trait.

    by Says Who on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:02:17 PM PST

    •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

      You can't shame a group of people when they are very proud of what you are trying to shame them of.

      Everyone should shut up with the "Pledge to America, not to Norquist". In the eyes of the anti-tax people, they are doing what they believe is right for the country.

      People panic too much on this site.

      by thematt523 on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:38:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't suggest that they be shamed. (0+ / 0-)

        I just want them run out of office if they don't rescind their unpatriotic pledge.

        They can keep their pride, they can keep their fear of a wealthy lobbyist, and they can keep their pensions.

        Panic and shame have not entered into my argument. Those are your words.

        The signers of the Pledge have been extorted. This can rescue them, for the good of the country, and for their own peace of mind.

        Honesty is not a policy, it's a character trait.

        by Says Who on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 03:02:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think (0+ / 0-)

    the Buffett Rule ought to be called the Romney Rule.

    27, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-07 (originally), liberal-leaning independent

    by TDDVandy on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:12:28 PM PST

  •  All they have to do to pay for the Payroll Tax Cut (0+ / 0-)

    And even go a long ways towards making Social Security solvent is to eliminate or at least drastically raise the wage cap subject to the tax.

    Social Security taxes are currently only applied to the first $106,800 (indexed) of wages.  This means most of us pay a full 7.65% on every penny of our wages, but a person earning $150,000/year pays only 5.4%, a person earning $200,000 pays 4.1%, etc.

    I would propose raising the cap on just the individual's share and not the employer share, and changing the benefit calculation so that the additional tax payments would not raise benefits for those wealthier payers.

    Can't never did nothin'; Can Do did!

    by susanWAstate on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:31:34 PM PST

  •  Writing on the wall? (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps Mitch McConnell can see that obstruction on this will cost seats in both houses and negatively impact White House hopes.  I was kinda hoping he and Boehner would continue to be a jerks about it and pay for it in November.

    In 2010, I paid more taxes than General Electric.

    by GrogInOhio on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:57:20 PM PST

  •  really? (0+ / 0-)

    "Softening on a position" is now our collective threshhold for joy?  I'm disillusioned.

    American deserves better than the GOP. Way better.  Not just softening.  

  •  He has no desire to pay down the debt (0+ / 0-)

    Let's kill this beast right now. Our soveriegn debt is 14 trillion and growing. Our tax revenue is 2.3 trillion or so with expenditures over 3.5 trillion. The majority of it is in defense, SS, medicare and medicaid. In order to retire the debt which is what he thinks is the right course of action, we will have to have a revenue surplus for at least a decade in order to pay it down. Does anyone on planet earth think that you can chop 1.4 trillion each year from the budget, cut taxes and have a surplus to pay down the 14 trillion owed? Even if the economy turned around and we cut like mad and tax revenues grew, would any Republican Congress or POTUS ever allow for a surplus to pay down debt? Please.

    Do facts matter anymore?

    by Sinan on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 03:54:08 PM PST

  •  I appreciate the post, but I wouldn't trust (0+ / 0-)

    McConnell at all on anything.
    Let me repeat that, so I don't have to start cussing.
    I wouldn't trust McConnell at all on anything.
    One more time.
    I wouldn't trust McConnell at all on anything.

    We should not trust McConnell until he's 6 ft. under.

  •  What is more important than McConnell's response (0+ / 0-)

    is whether CNN (Crowley) is finally getting around to asking substantive questions of the gop.
    So this may be a good sign.

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