McConnell: Permanent Debt Limit Increase ‘Not Going to Happen’

By Matt Cover | December 6, 2012 | 10:55 AM EST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the  permanent debt limit increase sought by the White House is “not going to happen,” because using the debt limit as leverage is the only way to force President Obama to cut spending.

“Look, the only way we ever cut spending around here is by using the debate over the debt limit to do it. Now the president wants to remove that spur to cut altogether. It gets in the way of his spending plans,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday.

“I assure you: it’s not going to happen. The American people want Washington to get spending under control. And the debt limit is the best tool we have to make the president take that demand seriously.”

The White House has said that it wants a permanent extension of the debt limit, offering that Congress should simply allow the administration to borrow whatever money it might need to meet the nation’s spending obligations.

McConnell said that Obama’s desire to effectively remove the debt limit showed that his “true intent” was the power to spend unlimited amounts of money.

“What the president’s really interested in, as we all learned yesterday, is getting as much taxpayer money as he can — first by raising taxes on small businesses that he thinks make too much money, and then on everybody else— not so he can lower the debt or the deficit, but so he can spend to his heart’s content,” McConnell said.

Obama’s proposal would allow the administration to borrow at will whenever the government’s spending needs required it. Currently, Congress permits the administration to have a maximum amount of debt outstanding – the debt limit. Currently, that limit is $16.394 trillion.

The debt limit does not control federal spending; only the amount of debt the government can carry. Allowing Obama to raise the limit unilaterally would simply allow the government to borrow money as needed. It would not allow the administration to spend any more than Congress has already authorized because federal spending is authorized separately from federal borrowing.

The government is expected to reach the current debt limit some time in late December or early January, depending on government cash flows and other accounting measures taken by the Treasury.