On the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered to give Democrats a chance to go on the record and demonstrate just how serious they are about averting the fiscal cliff by proposing a vote on the package that President Obama proposed last week. Take it away, McConnell:
If the President’s proposal was made in good faith, Democrats should be eager to vote for it. So I’m surprised the Majority Leader just declined the chance for them to support it with their votes. I guess we’re left to conclude that it couldn’t even pass by a bare majority of votes, and that they’d rather take the country off the cliff than actually work out a good-faith agreement that reflects tough choices on both sides. … I think folks should know who actually wants to raise taxes on family farmers and manufacturers, and who thinks we can solve our fiscal problems without doing anything serious to our real long term liabilities. Democrats are so focused on the politics of this debate they seem to forget there’s a cost. They’re feeling so good about the election, they’ve forgotten they’ve got a duty to govern. A lot of people are going to suffer a lot if we go off this cliff. That’s why we assumed Democrats wanted to avoid it. We thought it was the perfect opportunity to do something together. Apparently we were wrong.
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s response to this reasonable request? How dare these Republicans ask us to vote on a bill carefully designed and touted by our party leader — it’s a stunt, I say! A stunt!
“I reserve the right to object. I just a minute ago moved to the Russia trade bill,” said Reid. “The purpose of moving to this bill is to protect American jobs. If we don’t do this legislation, we’ll lose American jobs for sure and put American companies in even worse shape than they are with Chinese and European companies. So the question is really this: are we going to get serious here and legislate or is this more of the obstruction we felt so much during this last Congress?
“The answer to that is really obvious. The answer is yes. Or are we going to continue the sort of political stunts that the Republican Leader is trying to pull today, now?”
Okay, sure: Let’s go ahead and accept Mr. Reid’s language that this is a Republican “stunt,” but it being a “stunt” isn’t why Mr. Reid objects to it — the real problem is that a vote on President Obama’s plan would expose exactly what’s really going on here. The White House insists that President Obama’s plan — to hike up all kinds of taxes and virtually eliminate the debt ceiling — is a substantive, credible, good-faith proposal, yet plenty of Democrats are conspicuously hanging back from endorsing it. Could it be that the White House really doesn’t care about compromise, avoiding the pain of the fiscal cliff, or reducing the deficit, but is actually just single-mindedly committed to their entirely reckless goal of merely hiking taxes on the wealthiest Americans — a plan that even most Congressional Democrats wouldn’t vote for?
…Oh, hey, check that out — they just admitted as much.