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When everything is off the table

January 7, 2013, at 7:00 AM
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The tax issue is finished, over, completed. That's behind us."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The tax issue is finished, over, completed. That's behind us." Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Obama and Republicans apparently moved even further apart this weekend in their contentious negotiations over the country's long-term debt.

In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama declared he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling: "One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they've already racked up. If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic."

For more than a month, Republicans have suggested they would use the debt ceiling as leverage to extract more concessions on spending cuts from the president.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told ABC News on Sunday that he would not accept any new tax increases in the continuing negotiations: "The tax issue is finished, over, completed. That's behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future, and that's our spending addiction."

The senator's position is at odds with many Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who have signaled they would accept greater tax revenues as part of an overhaul of the tax code, including closing loopholes and decreasing exemptions.

But as Z. Byron Wolf points out, in Washington, D.C. "saying you won't do something these days has almost become like an opening bid."

It's almost as if not negotiating is now a negotiating tactic.

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