WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid likened the GOP to the hapless New York Jets on Thursday.

While speaking on the Senate floor Thursday morning, Reid (D-Nev.) used the Jets to make his point that the Republicans lack cohesion in their position on how to prevent the fast-approaching fiscal cliff.

“Coach [Rex] Ryan, he’s got a problem. He has three quarterbacks: [Mark] Sanchez, he’s got Tim Tebow, he’s got a guy by the name of McElroy. He can’t decide who their quarterback is going to be. That’s the same problem the Republicans are having. Romney’s gone but he’s still in the background. We have [Sen. Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and we have [House Speaker John] Boehner. Who is the quarterback, Mr. President? Who is the quarterback?” Reid (D-Nev.) asked.

The remarks referenced the recent troubles plaguing Jets’ starting quarterback, Sanchez, and the increased pressure for the troubled New York team to use backup quarterback Tebow or third-string quarterback McElroy.

That question prompted a just-as-witty response from McConnell (R-Ky.): “The majority leader points out that there is some confusion on who the quarterback is on the Republican side. … There’s no question who the quarterback is on the Democratic side: it’s President Obama, and he keeps throwing interceptions.”

Bluster and hot rhetoric aside, the White House and House Republicans have identified areas of significant overlap that could form the basis for a final agreement after “fiscal cliff” posturing gives way to hard bargaining.

Both sides now concede that tax revenue and reductions in entitlement spending are essential elements of any deal. If the talks succeed, it probably will be because Boehner yields on raising tax rates for top earners and the White House bends on how to reduce spending on Medicare and accepts some changes in Social Security.

The White House and Boehner kept up the ridicule of each other’s negotiating stances on Tuesday. But beneath the tough words were the possible makings of a deal that could borrow heavily from a near-bargain last year during debt-limit negotiations.

Then, President Barack Obama was willing to reduce cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries and increase the eligibility age for Medicare, as Boehner and other top Republicans have demanded. On Tuesday, Obama did not shut the door on Republican ideas on such entitlement programs.

“I’m prepared to make some tough decisions on some of these issues,” Obama said, “but I can’t ask folks who are, you know, middle class seniors who are on Medicare, young people who are trying to get student loans to go to college, I can’t ask them to sacrifice and not ask anything of higher income folks.”

“I’m happy to entertain other ideas that the Republicans may present,” he added in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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