Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks last-minute deals like the one resolving the recent government shutdown are inevitable under the American system of government. “It’s been that way forever. So if anyone thinks that there’s going to be these long-range plans like the five-year plan in the former Soviet Union, that doesn’t work,” he said in a recent interview on KNPR.
He did, though, blame Republican irrationality for the protracted period it took to reach a deal. “It’s really hard to try to be rational and logical with people who are illogical and not rational.” His prime example of irrationality is the 45 attempts to repeal or defund Obamacare. Reid said that strategy fitted Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Reid said he was particularly sad that the “mainstream Republicans” had gone along with the Tea Party in backing the various attempts to repeal the health care law. “Where have mainstream Republicans gone? Where have they gone? I know how it used to be, and my sadness comes from the fact that these so-called mainstream Republicans in the House and the Senate went along with these people. Went along with them until that very last vote.”
Reid's prime example of irrationality is the 45 attempts to repeal or defund Obamacare. He said that strategy fitted Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Looking back on the recent deal, Reid said he wished Democrats had not negotiated on renewing the Bush tax cuts in 2010 and 2012. He likened Republicans to schoolyard bullies. “You cannot do business with bullies,” he said. “It’s taken a while for all my caucus to come to that understanding, and the President, wonderful man that he is, doesn’t like confrontation. He likes to work things out with people.”
Still, Reid remains optimistic about a budget deal coming from the current negotiations, since he believes the Republicans have done so much damage to themselves they will not repeat the recent experiment in blocking the budget and Obamacare. Reid said cuts that have already been made have got more than half the $4 trillion in reductions sought by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. Immigration reform, if the House passed it, would reduce the deficit by another $1 trillion and it would then be easy to find another $400 billion in cuts over the next decade, according to Reid.
Despite that optimism, Reid dismissed speculation of a grand bargain as mere “happy talk.” He wants the focus on fixing sequestration – making cuts without using across-the-board reductions that would trim $23 billion from the military in 2014.
Democrats are willing to bargain on spending if Republicans rethink their attitude on taxes. “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The rich know that. The rich are willing to pay more,” he said, arguing that increased taxes will have to be part of any deal. Only Republicans in Congress think that no increase in taxes is a plausible position, said Reid.
Reid said there’s no excuse for the failure of the health insurance exchange on the Internet, but there are other means to access health care – the phone or the Social Security office. He added that problems created by the Affordable Care Act are exaggerated and he expects the changes wrought by the law to be a big political plus for Democrats – and certainly not a problem as some pundits are predicting.