Just how serious are Democrats about negotiations to prevent the US from going over the fiscal cliff?
Harry Reid and Democrats in the Senate refuse to hold an up or down vote on the president's fiscal cliff plan. Does that sound like they're serious to you?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday offered an amendment to force a vote on President Obama's deficit-reduction plan, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was having none of it.
"Last week [Treasury] Secretary [Timothy] Geithner brought up a proposal that was so unserious," McConnell said on the floor, "I would like to see if my Democratic friends would like to support it."
McConnell suggested that the Senate vote on what he called the president's "ridiculous" plan as an amendment to the Russian trade bill that is being considered.
Reid, however, objected to McConnell's suggestion, saying the Russian trade bill, H.R. 6156, is about job creation, not political stunts from Republicans.
"The purpose of this bill is to protect American jobs," Reid said. "Are we going to get serious here and legislate or is this more of the political stunts that the Republican leader is going to pull today?"
The majority leader's objection removes the amendment from consideration.
McConnell said he wasn't surprised Democrats didn't want to vote on Obama's plan, which he said raises taxes on small businesses.
"Not a single Senate Democrat has stepped forward to support it, and if you look at it you can see why," McConnell said. "It increases taxes."
Obama's plan, released last week, calls for $1.6 trillion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to entitlement programs, plus a new $50 billion stimulus plan. Democrats want to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year. The plan would also allow the president to raise the debt ceiling without action from Congress, something lawmakers heavily oppose.
McConnell added that he'd be happy to have a stand-alone vote on the president's plan rather than attaching it to legislation as an amendment.
It's all political theater, of course, but in this case, McConnell comes out a winner. By exposing Democratic hypocrisy on Obama's plan, McConnell shows them to be totally bereft of real ideas on how to avoid the fiscal cliff.