McConnell declines to endorse Boehner plan

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday declined to endorse a proposal issued the day before from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that would raise revenue by $800 billion.

McConnell kept his distance from a proposal that received a hail of criticism from conservatives, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a prominent voice in the Senate GOP conference.

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Instead, McConnell praised Boehner for showing leadership and scolded the president for not taking a more active role.

“I have no particular observation other than that I commend the House Republican leadership for trying to move the process along and getting to a point where I hope we can have a real discussion,” McConnell told reporters after the weekly Republican lunch.

McConnell said behind-the-scenes talks between Boehner and senior White House officials have stalled.

“Frankly I had hoped that we would be accomplishing more in the real talks that are going on privately but I can tell you, being aware of those, there’s nothing going on privately that’s not going on publicly,” he said. “We’ve wasted an enormous amount of time here sparring back and forth in public.”

A senior Senate GOP aide said McConnell endorses Boehner’s leadership and does not endorse President Obama’s limited involvement with GOP leaders in the talks.

The aide said McConnell had no intention of negotiating in public by voicing support for various proposals.

DeMint and other conservatives have blasted Boehner’s deficit-reduction offer, which would raise $800 billion in new tax revenue and cut $600 billion from health programs and $300 billion in other mandatory spending. It would cut an additional $300 billion in discretionary spending.

"Speaker Boehner's $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny,” DeMint said in a statement on Tuesday.