U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on CNN news program "American Morning" Wednesday morning. The following are excerpts from the program:
On the Senate Republicans' Meeting with President Obama:
" I invited him to come up in December, and he did yesterday. We enjoyed having him. He listened to our suggestions. I think his biggest problem is oddly enough, not with us, but with Congressional Democrats, who seem not to have gotten the memo about the nature of a stimulus, which is that it ought to be timely, temporary, and targeted."
On the Democrats' Trillion-Dollar Spending Bill:
"The House package, we haven't seen the Senate package yet, we haven't had the debate on the floor, but the House package has still got things like, you know, repairing ATV trails and fish passages and other things, you know, that may be worthwhile projects but are certainly not going to meet the standard of timely, temporary, and targeted. So, there's widespread agreement that we need a stimulus package. We're still working on it in the Senate. Hopefully it will end up being more stimulus and less pork."
On Fixing the Housing Problem:
"Well, there are two things that we think are essential. Number one, we need to go right at the housing problem, that's what started all of this. We have a proposal for 4% mortgages that we think would dramatically go right at what started the whole thing.
" many people would refinance. It would deal with the leveraging problem that the whole country has, too much debt, both the government and individuals. In addition to that, the President himself, of course, also indicates that the housing problem is important. We just approved a second tranche of the troubled asset relief program. He indicated yesterday he thought a substantial portion of that would be devoted to housing. I don't know whether that will happen or not. But it should. But we believe that a part of the stimulus package, this 4% mortgage proposal, would go directly at the housing problem which started the whole mess."
On Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses:
"In addition to that, there's no question, that tax relief, both for individual taxpayers, get those middle-class tax rates down so it will be reflected in people's take-home pay immediately and also some business tax relief. I think the president believes there ought to be some business tax relief. We think that's important. And in terms of the tax portion of the overall package, the President had originally said he thought it ought to be 40%. We agree with that.
"Unfortunately, it looks like in the House package it's crammed down to about 20%. And much of that tax relief doesn't go to people who pay income taxes. So, where we had differences with the House democrats is that the package just doesn't seem to reflect our priorities, nor the President's."
On the Cram-Down Proposal:
"Yeah, what I do oppose is giving judges the ability to change the terms of the contracts, the so-called cram-down proposal. What that would do in effect is raise mortgage rates for everyone in the country who is in compliance. It's important to remember that over 90% of Americans are making their payments on time. They haven't done anything wrong and they didn't deserve to have their interest rates raised by some unelected judge."