TAPPER: Respectfully, sir, you didn't answer my question, which is should Republicans campaign on a platform of repealing the health care reform measure? And will that be one of the first items on your agenda should you become the new Senate majority leader after the 2010 elections?
MCCONNELL: Well, I'm sorry, I thought I did answer your question. There's no question that this bill, if it were to become law, and frankly even if it doesn't become law, will be a big, if not central issue not only in the 2010 election, but in the 2012 election.
TAPPER: All right, I'll take that as a yes, that they should campaign on repealing Obama care.
You cut a deal with Harry Reid to secure a vote on the debt limit issue for the first week that Congress returns, a stand-alone vote on the debt limit plus five Republican amendments. Why was that important to you?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, this administration has run up more debt in its first year than the previous one in four years. They passed a budget that will double the debt in five years, triple it in 10. Raising the debt ceiling is no longer an automatic. This is the nation's credit card we are talking about, and so we think it's important to have a debate with amendments about what we intend to try to accomplish for the American people to get this debt down. Americans are afraid that their children are no longer going to have the kind of country they have had because of this burgeoning national debt. And raising the debt ceiling is a good time to have that debate.
TAPPER: The Congressional Budget Office says that the health care reform bill will actually reduce the deficit by $132 billion. But there's also this criticism from Bruce Bartlett, an official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who wrote in a "Forbes" magazine article, titled "Republican Deficit Hypocrisy," that the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit offered by the Republican Senate was, a quote, "pure giveaway," that quote, "had no dedicated financing, no offsets, no revenue raisers. 100 percent of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit." Quote, "As far as I'm concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt."
Senator, you voted for that Medicare prescription drug benefit, which some say will cost $1 trillion over 10 years and was not offset by revenue or spending cuts.
MCCONNELL: Well, the first thing, you should notice that it came in 30 percent underbudget because of the competitive mechanisms that are involving in extending a prescription drug benefit to seniors. The Democrats criticized it at the time because it was not generous enough. And look, they have gone far beyond any deficit spending discretions -- indiscretions that Republicans might have had. In their first year alone, they ran the deficit up more than the last four years of the Bush administration combined.
Enough is enough. The American people are expecting us to stop this effort to spend, tax, and borrow us into oblivion, which has been going on for the last 12 months.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Mitch McConnell, have a good holiday. Thanks so much for joining us.
MCCONNELL: Same to you, Jake.
TAPPER: The roundtable is next with David Brooks, Ruth Marcus, Matthew Dowd, and Paul Krugman. And later, the "Sunday Funnies."