The goal posts may be moving but...
If House Republicans twist enough arms to pass John Boehner's silly "Plan B," both sides realize it's not going anywhere. President Obama has already issued a veto threat, and Senate Democrats don't even intend to bring it to the floor.
And these circumstances leave everyone in an uncomfortable spot: the looming deadline is very close, Christmas is next week, and the parties, nearing a deal on Monday, now appear to be further apart than at any point in weeks. It's so bad, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is flubbing his football metaphors.
The possibility of a ruined holiday and the absence of a deal left hard feelings all around. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blamed the president and Democrats.
"They've been playing Lucy and the football with the American people for months," said the Kentucky lawmaker. "They've said no to every single proposal that's been offered to avoid this tax hike – including their own. They're running out the clock. Moving the goal posts. Sitting on their hands. They aren't doing anything."
This doesn't work. Lucy pulled away the football so Charlie Brown couldn't kick it; Democrats have done largely the opposite, presenting Republicans with a credible deal. The ball is just sitting there; Dems have no interest in pulling it away. It's GOP lawmakers who are running in the wrong direction.
And yes, it's true the goal posts have been moved, but they're moving closer to the Republican position.
Obama started off demanding $1.6 trillion in new revenue, then he said he'd accept $1.4 trillion, and then he said he'd accept $1.2 trillion. What's more, the president said he expected lower rates on income up to $250,000, and then he expressed a willingness to move to $400,000.
McConnell may not be a football fan, so let me spell this out: when the goal posts move closer to you, that's a good thing. Obama has made it easier for Republicans, not harder.
As for "sitting on their hands," I'm not sure what more Dems can do at this point. Speaker Boehner has walked away from the talks he initiated; he's ignoring a good deal; and he's choosing not to make a counter-offer, trying some pointless gambit instead. What more does McConnell seriously expect Democrats to do while waiting?