Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a golden opportunity to prove just how popular President Obama's plan to avert the fiscal cliff is with his member of his own party. But, true to form, Sen. Reid refused to schedule the vote. "Not a single Senate Democrat has stepped forward to support it, and if you look at it you can see why.... It increases taxes," McConnell was quoted by Ramsey Cox in a story filed the afternoon of December 5 for TheHill.com. For his part, Reid dismissed McConnell's push for a vote as a stunt, although just last week he praised the president's plan, suggesting Obama and Senate Democrats were "on the same page."
Unfortunately this development failed to receive any mention on the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS, or NBC, nor on the December 6 morning programs for the same networks. Likewise both the New York Times and Washington Post December 6 print editions failed to report Reid's refusal to schedule a vote.
By contrast, when the president released his "fiscal cliff" plan last Thursday via his Treasury Secretary, the following morning the Washington Post announced in a front-page article that "President Obama [has] offered Republicans a detailed plan" which (emphases mine):
calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, $50 billion in fresh spending on the economy and an effective end to congressional control over the size of the national debt.
The proposal, delivered to the Capitol by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, mirrors previous White House deficit-reduction plans and satisfies Democrats’ demands that negotiations begin on terms dictated by the newly-reelected president.
The offer lacks any concessions to Republicans, most notably on the core issue of where to set tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. After two weeks of talks between the White House and aides to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), it seemed to take Republicans by surprise.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, were triumphant after receiving similar briefings from Geithner and White House legislative liaison Rob Nabors. Top Democrats have for months insisted that an Obama victory would entitle them to demand far more in new taxes than Republicans have been willing to consider, to seek new measures to boost economic growth, and to avoid major cuts to entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare.
“Democrats are on the same page,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). “The president has made his proposal; we need a proposal from them.”
Meanwhile in the November 30 edition of the New York Times, Jonathan Weisman closed his article, "G.O.P. Balks at White House Plan on Fiscal Crisis" by noting (emphasis mine):
Senate Democratic leaders left their meeting with Mr. Geithner ecstatic. If the Republicans want additional spending cuts in that down payment, the onus is on them to put them on the table, said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.
Earlier in his article, Weisman noted:
the details show how far the president is ready to push House Republicans. The upfront tax increases in the proposal go beyond what Senate Democrats were able to pass earlier this year. Tax rates would go up for higher-income earners, as in the Senate bill, but Mr. Obama wants their dividends to be taxed as ordinary income, something the Senate did not approve. He also wants the estate tax to be levied at 45 percent on inheritances over $3.5 million, a step several Democratic senators balked at. The Senate bill made no changes to the estate tax, which currently taxes inheritances over $5 million at 35 percent. On Jan. 1, the estate tax is scheduled to rise to 55 percent beginning with inheritances exceeding $1 million.
It's plainly obvious that Sen. Reid could not call a vote on the Obama/Geithner plan precisely because he would have embarrassing results to show for it. Simply put, the Obama plan is laughably unserious, as Speaker Boehner and other Republicans have insisted. Fortunately for Reid and Obama, they have a liberal media who will not turn a spotlight on the Democrats but insist on painting the gridlock in Washington as though it was solely the fault of a convenient conservative bogeyman like Grover Norquist.