New Fight Looming Over US Debt

Posted January 6th, 2013 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. lawmakers are positioning themselves for another political fight over the country's budget woes.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned Sunday his party is done considering any tax increases, telling ABC's “This Week” that “the tax issue is finished.” He said President Barack Obama and lawmakers now need to focus on cutting spending, calling Washington's “spending addiction” the nation's biggest problem.

But the top Democrat in the House of Representatives says lawmakers still need to raise more revenue. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi told CBS' “Face the Nation” that when it comes to taxes, “I'm saying that's not off the table.”

Pelosi said lawmakers need to look at ending deductions and tax breaks for special interest groups and industries that are doing well and do not need them.

The arguments come less than a week after lawmakers passed a compromise deal that delayed the fiscal cliff — a combination of higher taxes and deep spending cuts aimed at fixing the country's chronic budget deficits and mounting debt, now at more than $16 trillion.

The measure stopped tax increase from going into effect for all but the very richest Americans. But it also gave the president and lawmakers an additional two months to decide on spending cuts before the austerity measures are imposed.

Additionally, Congress will soon have to vote on whether to increase the country's borrowing limit. Officials say the country only has enough money to pay its bills for about another two months, before it will need to borrow more money to pay existing debts.

Some economists warn a failure to resolve either issue could plunge the country into another recession.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he is optimistic lawmakers can avoid another fiscal crisis, saying “we could do things very quickly – these are not new issues.”

Some Democrats, like Congressman Chris Van Hollen have doubts. van Hollen told “Fox News Sunday” that McConnell's stance was “a recipe for more gridlock.”

Republican lawmakers also used the Sunday political talk shows to air concerns about former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who is expected to be President Obama's choice to be the next secretary of defense.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN's “State of the Union” that Hagel would be a controversial pick.

Graham criticized Hagel for being antagonistic toward Israel and for being too willing to compromise with Iran.

The number-two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin told CNN's “State of the Union” that Hagel would be a “serious candidate” for the post if he were nominated.