Republican House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said President Barack Obama acted like a “spoiled child” during last year’s debt ceiling negotiations between his administration and the Republican-led Congress, as McCarthy stood up for his party’s actions in voting for a sequester on the issue.
“The deal was a debt limit where you had a president walk away, where you’re dealing in the final hours and the only idea that the Democrats had was this so-called supercommittee,” McCarthy told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Monday. “So Republicans went along to make sure the cliff did not fall off. And then what happened in the supercommittee, Republicans offered an idea, Democrats did not.”
McCarthy cited the upcoming book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, which depicts Obama stepping out of a negotiation between Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as proof that Obama “walked away” when the country needed leadership — but he neglected to mention that he was asked to do so by House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid.
When Todd noted that each party has accused the other of abandoning negotiations, McCarthy said he remembered Obama saying “no more” at one point in the negotiation process.
“It was like a spoiled child going ‘I’m gonna take my basketball home and leave, I’m not gonna play anymore,’” McCarthy said. “That is not what you need in that situation.”
McCarthy’s remarks also follow recent attempts by the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to distance himself from voting for the temporary truce, which included cuts to military spending. Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, called the move “a big mistake” in an interview with NBC that ran Sunday.
McCarthy also refused to accept Todd’s suggestion that the fight over the debt ceiling, supported without incident by Republicans during the George W. Bush era, was brought about by House Republicans.
“Let’s be honest: the whole reason we’re at a debt ceiling? Because Washington spends too much money,” McCarthy said. “The whole reason we’re at a debt ceiling is because we’ve had trillion-dollar deficits, year over year and no budget being passed. The American people are asking [us] to balance this budget.”
However, Republicans like Rep. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was part of the meeting Woodward described in his book, was among those threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage unless Democrats made a “credible effort” to work with them.
The public sniping led to criticism from other Republicans, like former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who called those holding up the issue “our version of al-Qaeda terrorists.”
McCarthy’s interview with Todd, aired on MSNBC Monday, can be seen below.