McConnell: We Won't Treat Debt Limit Bill 'Like Some Kind of Motherhood Resolution'

By Susan Jones | January 27, 2014 | 5:26 AM EST

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (AP File Photo) - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says Republicans will not give President Obama the unconditional debt-limit bill he wants:

"I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling, when we have a debt the size of our economy, is irresponsible. So we ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt -- or it produces at least something positive for our country," McConnell told "Fox News Sunday."

McConnell said President Obama is "unreasonable" to suggest that Congress treat his debt ceiling request "like some kind of motherhood resolution" that everyone would approve unconditionally.

He said a Keystone pipeline measure is "a good example" of something that could be attached to debt limit legislation because it would create jobs for the American people.

"The House of Representatives will initiate the discussion on the debt ceiling increase; they probably will have other ideas."

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked McConnell if Republicans might attach a measure banning an Obamacare-induced bailout of the insurance industry.

"All of those would be important steps in the right direction," McConnell agreed. "We need not have a default. We're never going to default; the speaker and I have made that clear. We've never done that. But it's irresponsible not to use the discussion -- the request of the president to raise the debt ceiling -- to try to accomplish something for the country."

Also appearing on "Fox News Sunday," White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said the White House position on the debt limit "is the same as it was in October and the same that it's been for more than a year, which is the American people should not have to pay the Republican Congress ransom for doing their most basic function, which is paying the bills.

"They have passed what is essentially a debt limit free of ideological riders the last two times. They should do it again, and spare the country the drama and the economic damage of repeating the movie no one wants to see from October," Pfeiffer added.

'Party of the private sector'

Asked to explain the "positive" Republican agenda, McConnell told Wallace, "Look, we believe that the American people will understand by this fall that we are the party of the private sector. You know, we've tried big government now for six years in a row. We know that doesn't work. We've had a tutorial, an experiment with spending and borrowing and taxing and regulating.

"I think the American people are now, the surveys indicate, very skeptical of all of these government solutions the president continues to offer. And we're going to make the point that, let's try the private sector for a while. Let's make it easy to create jobs and opportunity for our people. The government is not going to get that job done. We've seen that."

McConnell described the "Obama economy" as "more spending, more borrowing, more debt, more regulation," something that Republicans will not endorse. He said a divided government is the president's cue to move to the political center:

"And there are some job-creating steps that he (Obama) could take right now. He could approve the Keystone pipeline. He could work with us on trade agreements. My party is much more interested in global trade than the Democrats are. If he would convince his own members, we can do some business on trade. And he ought to stop things like the war on coal in my state, which have cost us 5,000 jobs during his administration."