WASHINGTON -- Republicans trying to come up with a coherent approach to the fiscal cliff are about as effective as the New York Jets' coach and quarterbacks -- but fun to watch -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday.
"It's not one of my favorite teams, but it's really fun to watch, and that's the New York Jets. New York Jets, yes. New York Jets," Reid said, prompted by a motion by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about the nation's borrowing limit.
"Coach [Rex] Ryan, he's got a problem. He has three quarterbacks. [Mark] Sanchez. He's got Tim Tebow. He's got a guy named [Greg] McElroy," Reid said in a reference to the team's QB problems. "He can't decide who their quarterback is going to be. That's the same problem the Republicans have."
McConnell motioned to hold a vote on an amendment that he had offered to let President Barack Obama have the power to raise the nation's debt limit, though McConnell opposes the amendment. The country is likely to run up against the debt limit in February.
“What the president’s really interested in, as we all learned yesterday, is getting as much taxpayer money as he can -- first by raising taxes on small businesses that he thinks make too much money, and then on everybody else -- not so he can lower the debt or the deficit, but so he can spend to his heart’s content," McConnell said, referring to a demand by Obama that the GOP stop trying to use the debt limit as a bargaining chip.
“The only way we ever cut spending around here is by using the debate over the debt limit to do it," McConnell said. "Now the president wants to remove that spur to cut altogether. It gets in the way of his spending plans."
Reid did not bite on the offer, instead offering the sports metaphor meant to suggest the GOP is just as clueless as the 5-7 Jets. He also reminded McConnell of the brutal showdown last year when the GOP refused to raise the debt limit until Democrats agreed to mandatory budget cuts that are now part of the so-called "fiscal cliff."
"I'd be happy to take a look at the proposal," Reid said. "If we can come up with something like we did when they created this other furor by refusing to increase the debt, where we had an ability to come here and have a couple of votes ... if that's what they want to do I'd be happy to take a look."
Reid also noted that Democrats won the election on the tax argument and that growing numbers of Republicans are showing a willingness to vote on a Democratic bill that shields 98 percent of earners from a tax hike when the Bush-era rate cuts expire at the turn of the year.
Economists warn the combined cuts and tax increases could push the nation back into recession.
McConnell answered the quarterback jab by saying that's quite common in a party that doesn't have the White House.
"The quarterback on the Democratic side is the president of the United States," McConnell countered. "And, unfortunately, he keeps throwing interceptions. And we're moving backward and backward and backward toward the goal line."
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.