Monitor Breakfast Q&A: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that Republicans likely 'muted' their foreign policy disagreements during the Bush administration and that Obama's health-care reforms 'constitute the single worst piece of legislation' he's seen passed. He also reminded the public that pundits previously wrote off the field of GOP candidates in 1980 – including one Ronald Reagen.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters at a Monitor breakfast on Wednesday, June 22.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won his Senate seat in 1984. His colleagues elected him minority whip in 2002 and leader four years later. He was the guest speaker at the June 22 Monitor breakfast in Washington, where he addressed the following issues:

Prospects that Congress will vote to raise the federal debt ceiling by August to avoid US default:

“I haven’t given up hope that we can do something important.... So far the administration is insisting on significant tax increases.... They could not get a tax increase on people making $1 million and up through a Congress that they had overwhelming control of last year. I think I can safely say this Congress is not going to raise taxes.”

GOP views of US military intervention in Libya:

“There are clearly divisions among Republicans in the Senate conference, as well as out across the land.... I’ve got at least some members who think this kind of presidential action is actually unconstitutional.”

How politics affects support for military intervention abroad:

“I’m not sure that these kinds of differences [as with Libya] might not have been there in a more latent form when you had a Republican president. But I do think there’s more of a tendency to pull together when the guy in the White House is on your side.”

On Republican plans to cut funds for financial regulators and implementation of President Obama’s health-care reform law:

ObamaCare was the single worst piece of legislation that has passed in my time in the Senate.... And Dodd-Frank [financial regulation] is probably the second worst piece of legislation.... Anything we can do to slow down, deter, or impede their ability to engage in this kind of oppressive overregulation, which is freezing up our economy, would be good for the country. “

The field of Republican presidential contenders:

“One of these candidates is going to get on a roll, they are going to start winning and they are going to look a lot better than they look today. Secondly, I think the president is in tough shape.”

Odds of GOP gaining control of the Senate in 2012:

“I like the numbers – 23 of them up [for reelection] and only 10 of ours.... I like where the opportunities exist this time – places like North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Missouri, and Virginia. And open seats in places like New Mexico and Wisconsin.”

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