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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) makes a point about his meeting with President Barack Obama regarding the country's debt ceiling, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington May 12, 2011.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   (UNITED STA
Brian Beutler on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's latest gambit:
On the Senate floor a few minutes ago Mitch McConnell made Democrats an offer. Now that he and the White House basically agree on the tax piece of the so-called fiscal cliff, Congress should pass legislation to prevent the Bush tax cuts from expiring at midnight, and grapple with the “sequester” in the coming days.

This is an offer Democrats will have a hard time turning down.

True, but there's an important caveat. Given that the tax cut threshold of $450,000 that Democrats negotiated with Mitch McConnell was predicated on delaying the sequester's spending cuts, there's no reason that they should feel compelled to stick by that number now that McConnell is taking the sequester off the table. Instead, Democrats should go back to their original alternative plan: putting forward legislation that would extend tax cuts on all income below $250,000 along with unemployment benefits.

Given the logic of McConnell's statement, he should be willing to support that plan. And if he can't bring himself to support it, he needs to either pay the political price for opposing it or put something else on the table as a concession. And that means delaying the sequester.

Basically, McConnell is saying that he only wants to enact the parts of the deal that he likes—the parts where Democrats compromised. But he doesn't want to enact the parts where Republicans would have had to compromise. And while I wouldn't bet against Democrats accepting that "offer," they really should reject it—especially now that House Republicans have announced they plan to take us over the "cliff."

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