Reid & McConnell

Democrats have no counteroffer on ‘fiscal cliff’

by Stephen Dinan and Sean Lengell-The Washington Times  |  published on December 31, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday he hasn’t been able to work up a plan to avert the fiscal cliff, leading his Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell, to turn to Vice President Joseph R. Biden instead to try to cut a deal.

“I’m willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner,” Mr. McConnell said in a dramatic plea on the Senate floor at 2 p.m., saying he’d sent an offer over to Mr. Reid at 7:10 p.m. Saturday night and was promised an answer early Sunday, but one never materialized.

A subdued Mr. Reid responded that he has been unable to work up a response among his own troops.

“At this point we’re not able to make a counteroffer,” he said.

Minutes later, Mr. Reid returned to the floor to say that there were several sticking points, but the biggest is that Republicans are seeking lower Social Security cost-of-living adjustments in the future. Mr. Reid said that while Democrats would consider that at some point in the future as part of broader entitlement reform, they won’t accept it in a smaller deal as a tradeoff for raising tax rates.

“We’re not going to have any Social Security cuts,” he said flatly.

This issue deeply cleaves Democrats in the same way that tax rate increases are anathema to Republicans. But the GOP has conceded that some rates will rise in this deal, while Democrats are balking at the entitlement spending changes.

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