Conversations about the debt ceiling and gun control continued to dominate this week's Sunday political talk shows, as they no doubt will for the coming weeks. Details from the shows, below:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for a reexamination of U.S. tax codes, citing taxes as a source of untapped revenue. The Democratic congresswoman said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “We’re talking about looking at the tax code, closing loopholes and special subsidies for Big Oil – that’s $38 billion right there.”
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argued that "the tax issue is over." "Well, it certainly underscores the voracious appetite for more taxes on the other side. The tax issue is over. We resolved that a few days ago," McConnell said on the same program. Instead, McConnell is focused on "our spending addiction," as he said on ABC's "This Week."
And on this morning's "Meet the Press," McConnell again called America's spending the major problem in the debt ceiling crisis, blaming Senate Democrats and President Obama for avoiding the issue. When host David Gregory pressed McConnell on whether Republicans were going to "push it to the brink once again," referencing the last-minute fiscal cliff deal, McConnell dodged Gregory’s question, saying instead, “What we're seeing here is the problem, the biggest problem confronting the country, is our excessive spending. If we're not going to deal with it now, when are we going to deal with it?”
The White House is currently weighing gun control legislation spearheaded by Joe Biden's task force, which the Washington Post reports would "require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors."
The White House wants legislation to pass quickly, but several politicians on this morning's shows expressed doubt that the bill will move forward as Biden hopes. McConnell said that the debt ceiling remains the No. 1 priority, ahead of gun control. "Clearly, we will not be addressing that issue early because spending and debt are going to dominate the first three months," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Meanwhile, freshman Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., called the legislation "extreme" on ABC's "This Week," saying, “I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration – and if the Washington Post is to be believed – that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about. And it’s not going to pass."
And NRA-friendly freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, expressed disapproval of the legislation, saying on "Fox News Sunday" that "I don't think the federal government has any responsibility creating a national registry of people who choose to lawfully keep and bear arms." Cruz added that the administration is exploiting the tragedy in Newtown by using it to push gun control regulations.
Reservations over Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., denounced Obama's pick for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, saying, "This is an 'in your face' nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel." Graham added, "Quite frankly, Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking I believe on most issues regarding foreign policy," he said.
McConnell, however, said he would "wait and see how the hearings go and see whether Chuck's views square with the job he would be nominated to do," adding, "I'm going to take a look at all the things that Chuck has said over the years and review that, and in terms of his qualifications to lead our nation's military."