McConnell: American People 'Want Things Done in the Political Center'

By Susan Jones | January 5, 2015 | 7:43 AM EST

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., talks about his agenda for a GOP-controlled Congress during an interview with The Associated Press on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says now that Republicans control the Congress, President Obama needs to talk to Republicans.

"And that's good, because when the American people elect a divided government, they're not saying they don't want anything done. What they are saying is, they want things done in the political center, things that both sides can agree on," McConnell told CNN's "State of the Union" in an interview that aired on Sunday.

McConnell said he's proved that he's willing to negotiate with President Obama:

"You know, the only agreements that have been made during these (Obama) years on a bipartisan basis, I negotiated -- the December 2010 two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, the August 2011 Budget Control Act, and the December 31, 2012, fiscal cliff deal. So I'm not opposed to negotiating with the administration."

(As CNSNews.com reported at the time, the 2012 fiscal cliff deal boosted federal spending by $332 billion over the next ten years. A majority of House Republicans voted against the bill, but House Speaker John Boehner, like McConnell, voted for it.)

McConnell told CNN he thinks the American people had two messages for Washington in the November election:

"They were certainly upset with the president and wanted to express that opposition to what he's been doing, but they also want to do something about the dysfunction in Washington. They -- I'm not sure they know exactly who is responsible for it, but they want it to stop.

"And so I think the message from the American people is they'd like to see a right-of-center, responsible conservative governing majority. That's what the speaker and I tend to provide. And, hopefully, we will have enough followers to do that."

McConnell said his top goal as majority leader is to do something about jobs and the economy.

"Just to give you some examples, it won't surprise you, things like approving the Keystone pipeline, which would put a lot of people to work almost immediately; trying to do everything we can to push back against this overactive bureaucracy of the current administration that's created much job loss, for example, in my state, in the mining industry, coal mining industry."

McConnell also mentioned the EPA's intention to expand its regulation of the nation's waters:

"We need to do everything we can to try to rein in the regulatory onslaught, which is the principal reason that we haven't had the kind of bounce-back after the 2008 recession that you would expect."

McConnell described the Affordable Care Act as a "terrible piece of legislation," but he didn't commit to repealing it. The other option is to "take out pieces of it," he said -- such as the medical device tax, the individual mandate and restoring the 40-hour work week.

"All of these are highly unpopular with the American people. And we will be voting on things I know he's not going to like. And I hope we can put them on his desk."

Asked how he plans to please conservatives while broadening the base of the Republican Party ahead of the 2016 presidential election, McConnell said, "We need to do both.

"We need to both look for areas where we can make some progress for the country, and obviously to do that, we're going to need some Democratic senators because we need 54, not 60 and we're going to need the president of the United States.

"There are other areas where we're not going to agree. What I hope Senate Republicans will present to the country is a conservative right-of-center governing majority, serious people elected in serious times to try to get results."


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