Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is firing a barrage at the president today. In remarks on the floor, he went after the president for his unreasonable opening offer and pleaded with him to show some leadership. He argued that in addition to “a very vocal and very determined group of extremists on the left who are rooting for us to go off the fiscal cliff,” the lack of presidential leadership is the biggest threat to a deal. He said: “The other obstacle to success is a mindset that says the president of the United States is somehow a bit player in this whole thing, that he’s just a bystander sitting around waiting on other people to act. This is the mindset that thinks leadership consists in telling other people to ‘work it out’ while you continue to run a campaign to make sure they can’t. It’s ludicrous.” As for the opening bid, he said:
And let’s be clear: An opening bid of $1.6 trillion in new tax hikes isn’t serious. It’s more than Simpson-Bowles or any other bipartisan commission has called for. It’s been unanimously rejected in the House and Senate. It’s twice as much as the White House seemed ready to agree to during last summer’s debt ceiling talks, and looked at in the context of the spending cuts that are yet to be enacted from the president’s other proposals, it amounts to about 20 cents in cuts for every new dollar in tax hikes — in other words, no cuts at all. It’s a joke.
It would also help if the president actually put out his proposal for entitlement reform. The Republicans did this twice in their budget plans. The president talks vaguely about means-testing Medicare, but where is it? He’s just been reelected, so how could he possibly be frightened of his own base?
The press likes to paint House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as a prisoner of his base. But in fact he was elected by unanimous vote and boldly put a grand bargaining offer on the table. That is far more than Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has done, and much more than the president has done (at least in public). So where are the stories about the left-wing base blocking progress on a deal? I imagine left-leaning media editors and reporters would be flabbergasted by the notion.