Reid: Nation will fall off 'cliff' unless GOP agrees to rate hikes

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Republicans Wednesday morning that Congress will go over the “fiscal cliff” if they do not agree to raise tax rates.

Reid said Democrats will not accept any promise to raise revenues through future tax reform.

“The American people aren’t going to be under the illusion that the Republicans are sometime in the future going to come up with revenue,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “They’re going to come up with raising the rates. Or, Madam President, we’re going over the cliff.

“How many times do we have to go through this drill to know that it’s an unfair game?” he said.

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) and Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), have suggested extending the tax rates only for family incomes below $250,000 and allowing rates on higher incomes to rise. They say the GOP could then resume the battle over the Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy in the next Congress.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and most House Republicans, however, have shot that suggestion down. Boehner on Tuesday made a counteroffer to President Obama that contained his original offer to raise $800 billion in new tax revenues.

Reid compared the Republican offer to Lucy’s regular joke at Charlie Brown’s expense in the Peanuts comic strip.

“It’s like the Charlie Brown cartoon. How many times — how many times is Charlie Brown going to try to kick that football? Because we know every time he approaches that football, it will be taken away from him,” he said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) took to the floor after Reid to press Obama to agree to significant cuts to social-safety net programs, which are the biggest drivers of the federal debt.

He said Democrats should not pretend they can solve the nation’s deficit problems by raising taxes alone.

“President Obama is suddenly silent, silent on the need for spending cuts,” McConnell said. “He keeps talking about balance. That polls well. But when it comes to specific cuts, he is largely silent.

“All of a sudden, it’s all tax hikes all the time,” he said.