And he knows it.
At least two Republican senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Johnny Isakson, have said they would vote with Democrats for partial deal that would end the threat of the Republican-created fiscal cliff. Then the Senate -- and Mitch McConnell -- could take credit for a deal that Boehner couldn't pull off in the House.
However, the current filibuster rules require that every individual Republican senator must agree not to filibuster for this to happen. And Mitch McConnell can't or won't try to get their agreement.
Democratic leaders say they will move forward on legislation this week only if Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, can assure them that it will not be filibustered and that once it is passed Mr. Boehner will bring it to a vote in the House.
Mr. McConnell has played the role of Congressional deal closer before. Last year, he engineered a way to raise the nation’s statutory borrowing limit that satisfied Republicans and Democrats alike. He also threw his weight behind an extension of the expiring two-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax, even after House Republicans tried to block it.
But in this case, neither he nor the junior members of his leadership have given any indication that they will intervene.
“It’s hard to overstate how little is going on,” said a senior Democratic leadership aide in the Senate, indicating what most lawmakers say in private: the country is likely to miss the Jan. 1 deadline...
... Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress appear stymied by a conservative wing that will not tolerate a vote on legislation that even tacitly allows taxes to rise. Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, said the minority leader could not declare by fiat that a bill could be presented for a simple majority vote with no threat of a filibuster. That would require the consent of every Republican, and Mr. Stewart gave no indication that Mr. McConnell would seek it. ...NYT
It's about McConnell's decision to put his reelection in conservative Kentucky in 2014 ahead of all other considerations. For Mitch McConnell, guaranteed reelection is more important than keeping the entire country from slipping into the economic crapper for who knows how many years to come. It's what passes for morality for the Republican senator from Kentucky.
Republicans have screwed themselves in an interesting way, according to one Republican senator -- Minnesota's Senator Frenzel.
"Republicans used to be interested in not running continual rivers of red ink. If that meant raising taxes a little bit, we always raised taxes a little bit. But nowadays taxes are like leprosy and they can't be used for anything, and so Republicans have denied themselves any bargaining power."
That's from the New York Times via Political Wire.
Of course, that means they're also shaking up global markets and risking the US's loss of bargaining power in the global financial market.