MCCONNELL: Yeah, absolutely. The tax issue is behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the real problem? We didn't have this problem because we weren't taxing enough. Fortunately, as a result of the agreement that was reached, 99 percent of Americans will not see their taxes go up, 500,000 small businesses will not see their taxes go up. The president got $1 trillion less in revenue than he wanted. That means that money stays in the pockets of the American people.
Now it's time to pivot and turn to the real issue, which is our spending addiction. And we ought to do it together now. We all know we've got to quit spending so much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, then it seems like the divide is as deep as ever if you're completely ruling out revenues and saying spending is the only answer. Some of your colleagues in the Senate have raised the prospect -- Senator John Cornyn and others -- of what they call a partial government shutdown. Here was Senator Cornyn in the Houston Chronicle just this week. He said, "It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well-being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain."
What exactly does that mean, a partial shutdown of the government? And do you endorse it?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, it -- it only -- the only reason we're even having these discussions is because of the president and the Democratic majority in the Senate's unwillingness to cut spending. We don't need to have these crises. We need to cut spending. It doesn't -- it shouldn't require a crisis to get the president and the Democratic majority in the Senate to start focusing on the real problem, which is that we spend too much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I accept that that's your point of view, but the division still seems to be there. So I'll go back to my original question. How far are you willing to take this strategy? Is -- is it acceptable to you that the government default if the president won't agree to discuss spending cuts over the debt limit?
MCCONNELL: My answer is, hopefully we don't need to get to that point. The president surely must know we're spending way too much. So why don't we do something about reducing spending?
The only reason these deadlines become significant, George, is because the Democratic majority in the Senate and the president of the United States don't want to cut any spending of any consequence. They don't want to do anything on the entitlement side.
You know, 60 percent of what we spend every year is interest on the national debt and very popular entitlement programs. Until we address the entitlement programs and make the eligibility for entitlements meet the demographics of our country, we can't ever solve this problem.
If we want to have the kind of country for our children and grandchildren that our -- that our parents left behind for us, the time to do that is now. Ironically, divided government is the perfect time to do it, because you can pull both sides together and do things that need to be done for the future, and the American people will understand, since you did it together, it was absolutely necessary.