Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, blasted President Barack Obama for not leaving anything on the "fiscal cliff" negotiating table this morning in remarks on the Senate floor.
"The President and his allies have taken so many things off the table the only thing left is the varnish," said McConnell. "The President now seems to think, after his re-election, that if all he talks about are the need for tax hikes, and that’s all reporters write about, we’ll all magically forget the part about needing balance. It’s a classic bait and switch. And we’re seeing new versions of it nearly every day now."
McConnell argued that while Obama ran his presidential campaign "saying any agreement has to be balanced, meaning revenue AND cuts," but now "Obama is suddenly silent on the need for spending cuts. He keeps talking about balance. That polls well. But when it comes to specific cuts, he’s silent."
McConnell argued that Obama is only setting out to please his base. Obama's "chosen a different path — a path aimed at pleasing the most partisan elements of his base," he said. "A month after his re-election and weeks before the fiscal cliff, he’d still rather campaign than cooperate. And we’ll find out this week if he has the will to change paths and get something done, or just double down on campaigning."
The Senate minority leader ended with a plea. "Look: the election is over. The president may enjoy these political rallies, but it’s time to get serious. The American people are gravely concerned about the nation’s future. They’re counting on us to prevent the kind of crisis here that we’ve seen unfolding across Europe. Republicans have engaged in these discussions in good faith. We’ve agreed to make tough choices," he said.
"The question is, where’s the President? Where’s the only man in the country who can make it happen? Well, it appears that with just a couple weeks left to resolve this crisis, he’s busy moving the goal posts. Instead of leading as he was elected to do, he’s out campaigning and playing games with the nation’s future.
"So my sincere plea this morning is that the President get serious — that he put the campaign behind him and lead. If he does, he’ll have willing partners. And the first sign is seriousness about spending cuts."
McConnell's remarks seemed aimed also at this report from the Associated Press stating, "Liberal Democratic members of Congress are warning President Barack Obama to not cut the Medicaid health care program as part of negotiations with Republicans over avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff."
This suggests that entitlement spending is no longer on the table -- leaving only "the varnish" on the negotiating table.