McConnell 2011: Republicans support a "package of spending cuts and revenue" to replace the sequester.
McConnell made his claim in a Senate floor speech delivered Tuesday morning. According to McConnell, when President Obama signed the legislation creating the sequester in the summer of 2011, he agreed to take revenue increases off the table:
In essence, the deal we struck was that, in exchange for avoiding a second vote before the election, the debt limit would be paired with spending cuts only, and would not involve a tax increase.Therefore, McConnell said, "any effort to bring taxes into the picture now is just a ploy to move the goal posts."
As you'll see below the fold, however, McConnell is the one moving the goal posts by insisting on a cuts-only replacement of the sequester. In fact, in 2011, McConnell said the GOP had proposed a "package of spending cuts and revenue."
As you may recall, the legislation that created the sequester also created a deficit reduction super committee that was tasked with developing a plan to replace the sequester by November 2011. McConnell was given three seats to fill on that committee, and when he named his appointees, he didn't say that revenue was off the table. In fact, he explicitly said that "reforming the tax code" had to be part of the plan "to get our nation's fiscal house in order."
Then, in November 2011, after the deficit reduction super committee failed to agree on a sequester-replacement, McConnell said that Republicans had proposed revenue increases, only to have Democrats reject them:
This fact was underscored in the final hours of negotiations by their refusal to accept even a basic package of spending cuts and revenue that they had already agreed to during previous debt-limit negotiations—unless they were accompanied by a tax hike on the very people Americans are counting on to create the jobs we desperately need. Not even a proposal to get rid of a tax deduction for corporate jet owners, something Democrats had previously eyed as a major prize, was enough to move them off their puzzling insistence on taxing job creators in the middle of a jobs crisis.McConnell wasn't merely leaving the door open to additional revenue, he was claiming that Republicans had put revenue on the table—including closing "a tax deduction for corporate jet owners." The problem, he said, was that Democrats were insisting on raising tax rates.
But even though McConnell may have been drawing a line against tax hikes on individuals, he wasn't just willing to support additional revenue, he was accusing Democrats of rejecting it as insufficient. The debate wasn't about whether revenue should be part of the deal—it was about how much revenue should be part of the deal.
Now, even though he was once in favor of including revenue as part of the sequester replacement, McConnell says revenue is off the table. That's the textbook definition of moving the goal posts. And when McConnell says the plan all along was for a cuts-only replacement, his own words from 2011 don't back up the claim.
It's not just McConnell of 2011 versus McConnell of 2013, either. As you might remember, the tax cliff deal reached at the end of last year replaced the first two months of the sequester with smarter deficit reduction measures. And yep, you guessed it: Those deficit reduction measures were equally divided between revenue and spending. That's something Mitch McConnell should know. After all, he voted for it.