ABC News' Sunlen Miller ( @sunlenmiller ) reports:
Lest you think that the debt talks are progressing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., offered a very blunt assessment of the status of the negotiations on the Senate floor this morning, accusing Democrats of “deliberate deception” and admitting that he now believes as long as President Obama is in office a real solution is not “unattainable.”
“It was their commitment to big government that stood in the way of a grand bargain,” McConnell said of Democrats and the White House, “The American people don’t want that, and Republicans won’t be seduced into enabling it.”
McConnell’s Senate floor speech came just hours before lawmakers are due to head to the White House to meet with President Obama, their third straight meeting, in as many days, on the issue as the two parties work to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the administration’s August 2 nd deadline.
“I truly believed we could get this done,” he said. “In the end, it appears that the perceived electoral success of demagogueing a solution proved its undoing. Or perhaps it was just the ideological commitment to preserving the size of government by the most stridently liberal members of the other side. “
Flat out, McConnell stated that he believes now that as long as President Obama is in the Oval Office, “a real solution is unattainable.”
“In my view the President has presented us with three choices: smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default. Republicans choose none of the above. I hoped to do good; but I refuse to do harm.”
A combative McConnell pointed a finger at the Democrats and the President for the ongoing impasse, saying that the president is gambling with the nations’ future – in what he says represents the “saddest commentary on the status of the leadership as the White House.”
“At a moment when we needed leadership the most, we got the least. The financial security of the nation was being gambled on the President's wager that he could convince people our problems would be solved if we just all agreed to take it out on the guy in the fancy house down the street. And I’m proud of the fact that Republicans refused to play along.”
Noting that Republicans stood their ground, McConnell said that they have and will refuse to support a tax hike, making their position “crystal clear” from the start.
“They asked us to join them in another Washington effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. They offered us the opportunity to participate in the kind of deliberate deception of the public that has given public service such a bad name in recent years. We all saw how it worked. The Administration carefully leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions of dollars in spending cuts. “
McConnell said the lack of detail in the White House leaks to media “concealed” the fact that savings they were willing to support was “at best smoke and mirrors.”
“The hope here was that the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening. But the practical effect would have been at most about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow. We've seen this kind of thing before. It’s just this kind of sleight of hand governing that’s put our nation more than $14 trillion in debt. And I will not associate myself with it. I refuse to join in an effort to fool the American people.”
“We will not pretend that a bad deal is a good one,” McConnell said, “The truth is, the Democrats saw this debate as a unique opportunity to impose the type of tax hikes they want so badly but couldn’t pass even in a Democrat-controlled Senate last year.”
So where do the negotiations head from here?
All that said, McConnell says Republicans will not let the government default on its obligations so they will continue to work to a deal.
“Republicans will choose a path that actually reflects the will of the people — which is to do the responsible thing and ensure the government doesn’t default on its obligations. And to continue to press the administration to rein in Washington. Not to freeze it in place. That’s why I will continue to urge the President to rein in our deficits and debt in a way that puts the short and long-term health of our economy ahead of his personal vision of government. “
The leaders from the House and Senate are still set to meet the President today at the White House at 3:45 pm today.