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Sunday Study Guide: McConnell, Simpson, Bowles and Roundtable

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

  • In the U.S. Senate since 1985, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has served as the leader of the Senate Republicans since 2006. He has previously served as the majority whip and the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair. Minority Leader McConnell will be up for re-election in 2014.
  • He has been in the news for his role in helping construct a last-minute fiscal cliff deal. McConnell said, “[I]t took an imperfect solution to prevent our constituents from very real financial pain. But in my view, it was worth the effort. As I said, this shouldn’t be the model for how to do things around here. But I think we can say we’ve done some good for the country. We’ve taken care of the revenue side of this debate.”
  • McConnell recently wrote in an op/ed  the new Congress is an opportunity for “reining in the out-of-control federal spending that threatens to permanently alter our economy.” The fiscal cliff deal “was the last word on taxes. That debate is over. Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation’s fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion.”
  • Watch his most recent Meet the Press appearance.


Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erskine Bowles

  • Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erskine Bowles co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and co-founded the Campaign to Fix the Debt. Simpson previously served Wyoming in the U.S. Senate for three terms, beginning in 1979. While in the Senate, he also served as the Republican whip from 1985 until 1995. Bowles previously served as White House chief of staff and as the director of the Small Business Administration during the Clinton administration.
  • Following the fiscal cliff deal, Simpson and Bowles released a statement calling the deal “a missed opportunity to do something big.” They said, “We have all known for over a year that this fiscal cliff was coming. In fact Washington politicians set it up to force themselves to seriously deal with our Nation’s long term fiscal problems. Yet even after taking the Country to the brink of economic disaster, Washington still could not forge a common sense bipartisan consensus on a plan that stabilizes the debt.”
  • Watch their interview on PRESS Pass here.


Roundtable: King, Gingrich, Becerra, Fiorina, Dionne

  • Sen. Angus King (I-ME) was sworn into to his first term in office this week. An independent, King will caucus with the Democrats. While in the Senate, King would like to see reform on many issues including gun control, the filibuster, the banking system and campaign finance. He serves on the Senate Armed Services, Intelligence, Budget and Rules committees. He previously served as governor of Maine from 1995 until 2003.   
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) recently said, “They have to find, in the House, a totally new strategy.” While everyone is talking about the upcoming debt ceiling fight, Gingrich thinks “that’s frankly a dead loser because in the end you know what’s going to happen. The whole national financial system is going to come into Washington and on television … and they’ll cave.” Watch Gingrich’s latest appearance.
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) was elected to serve as the chair of the House Democratic Caucus for the 113th Congress. He previously served as the caucus’ vice chair and was on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He voted against the fiscal cliff agreement and afterward released a statement that said, “I could not support this short-term fix which may spawn additional long-term problems, putting off until later the tough decisions on taxes and our nation’s debt and deficits, while also ignoring the biggest deficit challenging America’s prosperity: a jobs deficit.”
  • Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina served as vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2012 election cycle. On her most recent Meet the Press appearance, she said there would be an agreement on tax rates but “we should be also talking at the same time about closing loopholes because it helps simplify the tax code. And simplifying the tax code is critical if we want to restore small business creation and entrepreneurship in this country and we also have to be talking about where is it we’re going to cut spending. It’s a critical part of our fiscal problems.” She is also the author of “Tough Choices: A Memoir.”
  • This week, Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne wrote, while many are dissatisfied with the fiscal cliff deal, “we should at least consider the possibility that this week’s Midnight Madness was actually a first step down a better road. This will be true if Obama hangs as tough as he now says he will; if he insists on more revenue in the next round of discussions; and if he immediately begins mobilizing business leaders to force Republicans off a strategy that would use threats to block a debt-ceiling increase to extract spending cuts.” Watch his latest appearance on the show.


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