The debt ceiling debate has stalled over the issue of raising taxes, and the Senate minority leader and his chief whip said Sunday they aren't going to allow that to happen.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is headed to the White House on Monday to meet with President Obama after talks between Vice President Biden and congressional negotiators collapsed last week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is also meeting with the president, separately, earlier in the day.
Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has warned that Congress has until Aug. 2 to raise the debt limit or the U.S. risks defaulting on its loans.
"Throwing more tax revenue into the mix is simply not going to produce a desirable result, and it won't pass. I mean, putting aside the fact that Republicans don't like to raise taxes, Democrats don't like to either," McConnell told ABC's "This Week."
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said opposition to raising taxes doesn't mean that Republicans have refused to consider any new revenue. Kyl said Republicans have agreed to increase fees, for instance, but do not want to change the tax code.
Democrats say they want to raise some revenue by closing loopholes and trimming tax breaks for oil companies and high-income earners. House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn said closing loopholes is not the same as raising taxes.
"The question is, how do you define a tax increase? And I don't know of anybody who will define a tax increase as closing the loophole. If you tell me that my tax rate is going to be 30 or 35 percent and I come up with all kind of gimmicks with pretty smart lawyers and only pay 9 percent, there's something wrong with the loopholes in the law. We want to close those loopholes up. We do not want to raise anybody's tax rates. That's never been on the table," Clyburn said on "This Week."
Kyl said that Republicans "have always been willing to consider so-called tax expenditure" because reducing them would allow Congress to reduce overall tax rates. But Kyl said efforts to remove subsidies on oil and gas companies that have revenues exceeding $1 billion not only unfairly targets one industry that employs 10 million people, but it will raise gas prices.
"If you want gas prices to rise, if you want to pay more than four bucks at the pump, then go ahead and do this," he said, saying passage would be like declaring "we're going to punish you because you make a lot of money."
McConnell added that Democrats are willing to reduce Medicare expenditures, as demonstrated by cuts approved in last year's health care legislation. He said that's something that could pass if a vote were brought.
"We need to cut spending now. We need to cap spending in the future. And we need to save our entitlement programs, which are on a path to bankruptcy, according to the president's own trustees of Medicare and Social Security," McConnell said.