AMANPOUR: Thank you for joining us.
MCCONNELL: Glad to be here.
AMANPOUR: You heard what David Axelrod said about the Republican plan on extending all the Bush-era tax cuts and that it would really, you know, put the country more in hock. Analysts say that'll cause, you know, add some $4 trillion or so to the national debt. Are you really going to do that? Or do you think there would be a compromise on extending the middle-class tax cuts?
MCCONNELL: Well, let's understand what we're talking about here. This has been the tax rate for a decade. We're talking about raising taxes in the middle of a recession. And most economists think that's the worst thing you could do. The president himself was saying that was the worst thing you could do a year-and-a-half ago.
AMANPOUR: So do...
MCCONNELL: Raising taxes in the middle of a recession is a particularly bad idea, and Republicans don't think that's what we ought to do.
AMANPOUR: So do you not think you really, quote, unquote, "hold the middle-class tax cuts hostage" to all the tax cuts you want to...
MCCONNELL: Well, nothing's being held hostage to anything. It was the Democrats themselves who decided not to have this debate.
AMANPOUR: But would you compromise on that, even after the election?
MCCONNELL: I -- I was the only one who offered a bill. There was never a bill in the Senate. And you know why? Thirty-one Democrats in the House, five Democrats in the Senate said they agreed with me, that we ought not to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.
What might happen down the road is not the subject today. The question is, do we want to raise taxes in the middle of a very, very tough economy? All the Republicans think that's a bad idea, and a substantial number of the Democrats think the same thing.
AMANPOUR: Right, but there's also this huge thing that the people of the United States are worried about, and that is the deficit.
AMANPOUR: And adding -- keeping the tax cuts will add trillions to that. And let me ask you this. According to Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center -- let's see what he's just written -- "McConnell would have to abolish all the rest of the government to get a balance by 2020, everything. No more national parks, no more NIH, no more highway construction, no more homeland security, oh, and no more Congress."
MCCONNELL: Let me tell you...
AMANPOUR: So where would you...
MCCONNELL: Let me tell you how I'd reduce the deficit. There are two things you need to do. Number one, you need to get spending down, and number two, we need to get the economy going.
MCCONNELL: Everything that's happened in the last year-and-a-half has been to pump up the government. We borrowed stimulus money. We spent it to hire new federal government workers. We sent it down to states so they would not have to lay off state workers. You have to get the economy going.
That's the way you narrow the deficit. You get the economy going. You get government spending down. Throw a tax increase in there, and we're going to have this recession go on who knows how long.
AMANPOUR: But you're still not saying where the big, big cuts would come from, because some of the things you're thinking about...
MCCONNELL: Well, let me give you an example of something...