The cliché: "Kicking the can down the road — a great Washington tradition when the two major political parties reach a budget impasse — is not an option this time if the U.S. is to maintain its privileged financial standing in the world," writes Patrice Hill at The Washington Times. Israel Ortega at Latino Fox News says, "Kicking the can down the road will no longer do.For far too long, our government has been racking up debt by spending unabashedly in government programs and services." Matt Kibbe at The Daily Caller writes, "Democrats... insist on a debt ceiling increase that will last through the 2012 election, in the hopes that voters will forget about their spending binge until after they’re re-elected. All that accomplishes is kicking the can down the road while debt continues to pile up on our children and grandchildren."
Where it's from: Kibbe titles his column "Tea Partiers are the adults in the debt ceiling debate." Maybe so, but all this talk of can kicking actually refers to the kid's game "Kick the Can." As a refresher for those born in the last 50 years, kick the can is a variation on hide and seek. Players kick a tin can as far as they can down the street. One person retrieves it and returns it to its starting place while the other players hide. The searcher must then find any one player before someone else has a chance to run out from hiding and kick the can, prolonging the game. It has been played in some variation since at least the start of the 20th century, and has since become a favorite metaphor for any action that extends or delays a process. At this point, as William Safire noted in 2004, "The metaphor is in play more than the game."