NPR logo Sen. Mitch McConnell, GOP Theme Could Be 'Won't Get Fooled Again'

Sen. Mitch McConnell, GOP Theme Could Be 'Won't Get Fooled Again'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, June 28, 2011. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, June 28, 2011.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

There was more evidence Tuesday that the theme song of congressional Republicans could be The Who classic: "Won't Get Fooled Again."

For it's a complete lack of trust on the part of GOP lawmakers, stemming from how earlier fiscal deals have gone, that helps explain why Republicans have so far refused Democrats' demands for tax-revenue increases as part of an agreement to raise the debt-ceiling.

Republican hyper-suspicion of Democrats in the talks to raise the federal debt limit could be seen in the comments by Senate minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell Tuesday morning.

While McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, didn't specifically mention the bipartisan deal earlier this year that averted a government shutdown, that recent history is surely on the minds of many Republicans.

The deal reached in the spring was initially trumpeted as cutting $38 billion from current-year spending which was how GOP House and Senate leaders were able to sell it to their members.

But a sucker punch came in the form of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that found the actual savings to be a relatively puny $350 million, causing heartburn for Republican leaders and some gloating among Democrats.

That's important background to have in mind when considering what McConnell said Tuesday. He said, in part:

"When Democrats saw that we wouldn't budge, they proposed one last offer to craft a deal.

"They asked us to join them in another Washington effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. They offered us the opportunity to participate in the kind of deliberate deception of the public that has given public service such a bad name in recent years.

"We all saw how it worked. The Administration carefully leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions of dollars in spending cuts.

"The lack of detail concealed the fact that the savings they were supposedly willing to support was at best smoke and mirrors. The hope here was that the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening.

"But the practical effect would have been at most about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow. We've seen this kind of thing before. It's just this kind of sleight of hand governing that's put our nation more than $14 trillion in debt. And I will not associate myself with it. I refuse to join in an effort to fool the American people."

Or his fellow Republican lawmakers, he might have added, which is why so many of them have dug in their heels this time around.