“[Sen. Reid] and his staff were writing the bill with us,” says a senior Republican. “We were still working on it by the time he got back from the White House.” Asked whether Reid and his staff were fully involved in the work, the senior Republican replied, “edit after edit after edit.” A key GOP aide confirmed the account.
But the GOP bill to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling, which would avert the coming default crisis, would also require at least one more debt increase before the 2012 election, and the president, working hard for re-election, does not want to deal with the issue again before November 2012. After consulting with Obama Sunday evening, Reid’s willingness to work with the GOP disappeared. (The White House has all along blamed Republicans for blowing up the talks.)
If you’re Harry Reid, what do you with a problem like Obama? He keeps shifting and signalling but never offers a real plan of his own. He just keeps delivering comments and outsourcing the real work, and then scuttles whatever results from the talks. But because he’s a Democrat and the president, Reid can’t and won’t just call out Obama’s antics. Doing so would divide and demoralize the Democrats going into the 2012 elections. Reid isn’t the smartest of pols, but I’m sure he knows that much.
We have quite a mess on our hands.
Update: The AP provides more corroboration that Obama nixed the deal that Reid had accepted.
GOP officials said Democrat Reid warmed to the idea in private talks on Sunday.
But after meeting with Obama Sunday evening, Reid instead called Boehner’s proposal “a nonstarter in the Senate and with the president” because it would permit only a short-term increase of the sort that has already been rejected by Democrats. Boehner’s office rejected that description.