At some point you almost feel sorry for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). His caucus is so divided he hasn’t been able to come up with a budget in over 800 days. Then he works cooperatively behind the scenes with Republicans, comes up with a debt-ceiling plan and gets the back of the hand from the White House. Then, the president last night rails on debt-ceiling plans that aren’t “grand” and don’t include taxes. Why, that is a description of Reid’s own debt plan. Sure, President Obama said earlier in the day he favored the Reid approach, but then he tells the nation in primetime that a deal along those lines is not going to cut it.
Obama says such a deal is “an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all. And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.” Is Reid really trying to “slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for”?
He said he was referring to the House Republicans, but everyone watching who’s been following along knows that those criticisms are equally applicable to Reid’s latest effort.
A Senate Republican observed, “All I could think about while watching that speech was how mad Senator Reid must be right now. He spends all weekend working on a compromise only to have the president reject it. Then he has to pretend to support this new bill that only [New York Democrat Sen. Chuck] Schumer could have drafted. And then has to sit back and listen while the president describes a bill with no tax hikes (like the Schumer-Reid bill) as one that makes the elderly and poor suffer so fat cats can keep their private jets.”
But as for the president’s speech, as a House Republican aide put it, “It’s weirder than that – the president’s two demands all along were a debt increase that runs through the election and tax hikes. If he was willing to give up on tax hikes, he could have made a deal with Boehner a month ago!”
But back to poor Harry Reid. For all of this he has a slew of vulnerable Democrats, some of whom are very likely to lose and send him into the minority. I can’t help but think Obama could have been a little more solicitous of his Senate majority leader. As the Senate Republican put it, “It must get awfully frustrating listening to the president and Schumer dictate all day.” I imagine so.