The fight over spending cuts and the debt ceiling is likely to descend into "brinksmanship," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged Thursday.
McConnell signaled that the negotiations taking place between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders in both parties were likely to come down to the wire, despite warnings by the Obama administration that drawn-out talks are likely to rattle financial markets.
"It sounds to me like this is going to be another exercise in brinksmanship," said conservative pundit Jed Babbin, who was guest-hosting Laura Ingraham's radio show, about whether the fight was likely to draw near to the August deadline, after which the U.S. would face default on its obligations.
"Yeah, you're probably right about that," said the Senate's top Republican. "It's the point of maximum leverage, and we intend to use that leverage to reduce spending — in the short term, medium term and long term."
Biden's met several times now with a small group of negotiators including Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Those talks have centered around wedding a plan to reduce spending, which Republicans have demanded, to a vote on raising the debt ceiling. And McConnell blessed those talks as the only ones that matter, especially after the so-called "Gang of Six," a bipartisan group of senators working toward a deal, appears to have broken up after the withdrawal of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
"The only discussion that can actually lead to a reduction in spending is the one that the vice president is leading," McConnell said. "That's where we're going to get a result."