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You Tell ‘Em, Harry

[ 142 ] October 25, 2013 |

More, please:

Reid rebuked the Nevada Public Radio host when he was asked what Republicans would have to concede to get Medicare and Social Security cuts on the table.

“You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security. Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. That is not going to happen this time. There is not going to be a grand bargain,” Reid said. “What we need to do is have Murray and her counterpart in the House, Ryan, work together to come up with something to get out of this senseless sequestration and start the budgeting process so that we can do normal appropriation bills.”

I get the impression that more progressives are beginning to understand this, but Reid has generally been a terrifically effective leader in the Senate, with his handling of the shutdown being a particularly good example. I’m still amazed at the number of people who seem to think that we could have had a much better version of the ACA if it wasn’t for Reid’s weak leadership. The correct answer, as seems even more obvious in retrospect, is that it’s remarkable that Reid was able to get Bayh, Nelson, Lieberman, Landrieu et al. to vote for anything.

Comments (142)

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  1. Superking says:

    Except you, Scott, were just last week advocating for offering Medicare and SS cuts in exchange for . . . nothing really, maybe immigration reform, because on your theory, there is no way to get tax increases in any case. Reid, in the longer interview, was arguing against your position as well as the grand bargain. Unfortunately, more progressives seem to be coming around to your previous position, which if I remember correctly, was based on a piece from Matt Yglesias. It’s also something Republicans are pretty happy about–because you, Yglesias, and others, seem eager to negotiate on their terms, i.e. spending cuts, especially targeting social welfare programs, without accompanying tax increases.

    • Manny Kant says:

      Link? That doesn’t sound at all like something Scott would say.

      At any rate, what we should really do is give the Republican tax cuts in exchange for spending increases.

    • Superking says:

      Yglesias made the same point, but you referenced Ezra Klein and Atrios. http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/10/trading-spending-cuts-for-tax-increases-is-a-bad-deal

      That sure seems like a fair amount of progressives who are willing to give up tax increases and sign on to spending cuts. It’s unrealistic to think that Republicans want anything else. While Reid is saying that there won’t be a “grand bargain” he is not saying that there won’t be a budget agreement. The December deadline and negotiations aren’t about a grand bargain. They’re about creating a budget for the next year and addressing sequestration. Addressing sequestration for Republicans means reducing cuts to DOD spending while increasing cuts to SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid, SS, the ACA. That’s the situation we’re looking at. And your position appears to be accept Republican budgeting priorities in exchange for something else, like immigration reform.

      Immigration reform should happen anyway, and politically, Republicans will continue to suffer for its failure. It’s not really a good thing to get in the trade.

      • sharculese says:

        I don’t oppose upper-class tax increases, but there are other Democratic priorities, such as infrastructure spending or a public option or spending on programs for the poor, that are significantly more important.

        And if you can’t make a deal, that’s far better than cutting Social Security in exchange for evanescent tax hikes.

        Maybe it’s my poor reading comprehension, but these sentences seem to have almost no relation to your characterization of Scott’s argument. One might say you’ve constructed a fake argument, perhaps man-shaped, out of some flimsy but readily available material in order to prove that one again progressivism has been failed.

        • Superking says:

          Nope. I’d blame your reading comprehension. You have to understand Scott’s statements in the context of the world. Sorry big dog.

          • Malaclypse says:

            So, we need to consider the words he didn’t say?

          • sharculese says:

            You have to understand Scott’s statements in the context of the world.

            I cannot begin to figure out what the fuck this is supposed to mean, but it sounds super bonghit.

            • Superking says:

              WHAT THE FUCK DO REPUBLICANS WANT WHEN IT COMES TO SPENDING PRIORITIES?

              The context you don’t seem to be able to comprehend is that Republicans don’t want spending increases. They don’t want spending increases to the same degree that they want tax cuts. It’s the same shit.

              • Decrease Mather says:

                OK, that’s what Republicans want. Where did Scott say he’d give that to them?

              • DivGuy says:

                This is just completely wrong.

                Republicans happily voted for innumerable spending increases. They are not voting for tax increases and haven’t been for decades. The rich people who bankroll the party hate paying taxes and only care about deficits and spending insofar as they’re a good cover for tax-hating.

                I don’t buy the Ezra Klein argument that we should privatize Social Security in exchange for an education bill, but it’s not completely insane to suggest that bargains can be struck on spending.

                • Superking says:

                  Sure, Republicans voted for spending increases during the Bush administration. When have they done that in the past 4.5 years? You’re creating a fantasy Republican party that’s in some way sane or consistent.

                • DivGuy says:

                  No, the Republican Party under GW Bush was in absolutely no way sane, and consistent on basically only one thing–tax cuts for the rich.

                  You’re failing to understand the precise shape of their craziness and you’re mistaking their rhetoric for their beliefs.

                  The people who run the Republican Party care about tax cuts on the rich and corporate-friendly deregulation. They will go to the mattresses, every time, to protect those interests. They don’t actually care about spending much, as demonstrated by their failure over decades to even try to slow down government spending. That’s just rhetoric for the rubes.

                • Superking says:

                  You’re failing to understand the precise shape of their craziness and you’re mistaking their rhetoric for their beliefs.

                  The people who run the Republican Party care about tax cuts on the rich and corporate-friendly deregulation. They will go to the mattresses, every time, to protect those interests.

                  Bullshit. There is no secret, hidden agenda of the Republican party. They actually believe the crap they’re saying, and we have to deal with that. The belief that there are a group of people now running the Republican party is literally crazy. Did you not live through the shutdown we just had? You know, the one where the Chamber of Commerce told them to get their shit together and John Boehner couldn’t force his caucus to vote for anything?

                  Beyond that, the bigger point is that entitlement cuts are the same thing as corporation friendly deregulation. This isn’t hard to follow. They are the Randian free-marketeers that they actually claim to be. The end game of the Republican project is to keep labor cheap and to protect the private power of the wealthy. Cutting entitlements advances those goals.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  They actually believe the crap they’re saying

                  No, because if they actually gave a shit about deficits, they’d care about cutting spending. They don’t. They care about, in order: tax cuts, deregulation, and making Democrats look bad.

                  If Boehner actually wanted to stop deficit spending, all he had to do was hit the debt ceiling. Bang, no more deficit spending.

              • sharculese says:

                The context you don’t seem to be able to comprehend is that Republicans don’t want spending increases.

                I mean, I get that. What I don’t get is why you think what Republicans want sheds any light on what Scott wants, especially considering he explicitly says his priority is spending increases.

                • Superking says:

                  Scott is imagining a situation where he can get what he wants out of Republicans without dealing with what they want. It’s based on the assumption that tax cuts and opposition to tax increases are the single priority for Republicans. That’s simply not true. You can’t pretend that they don’t have other goals. It’s just a dream.

                • sharculese says:

                  Scott is imagining a situation where he can get what he wants out of Republicans without dealing with what they want.

                  Except that he explicitly said the plan is to try and trade tax cuts for spending hikes. You’re going out of your way to engage with an argument nobody made.

                • Sharon says:

                  Medicare Part D was a spending increase, so yes, Republicans will vote for spending when it benefits one of their constituencies.

          • Hogan says:

            You have to understand Scott’s statements in the context of the world my FDL secret decoder ring.

      • mark f says:

        ?????????????

        All three say give them tax cuts in exchange for good things, like more spending and no chained CPI. What are you reading?

        • Superking says:

          That’s not what Scott is saying in the linked article. He’s saying that in negotiations with Republicans, you can’t get tax increases and therefore shouldn’t try.

          What you both are leaving out is the other side of the equation. Republicans don’t want spending increases. They want spending cuts, except for the Defense Department. In so far as it’s not possible to reach an agreement with Republicans to raise taxes, it’s equally impossible to reach an agreement with them that increases spending on programs for the poor, i.e. the “nice things” that Atrios thinks we can get for tax cuts on the rich.

          This isn’t hard, people.

          • Manny Kant says:

            The idea is that you offer them tax cuts in exchange. This, of course, might not work, but nobody’s really tried yet so it’s hard to say.

            • Superking says:

              Give me one example of anything, literally any statement or action whatsoever, that would suggest to you that Republicans would consider this proposal. They have literally spent the last three years arguing for entitlement cuts. It is as deep a commitment for Republicans as tax cuts for the wealthy. Those two policy prescriptions–tax cuts for the wealthy and spending cuts for programs that help the poor–are part of the same economic project.

              • Hogan says:

                But Grover Norquist isn’t standing over their shoulders with a gazillion dollars, a stack of signed pledges and a Rolodex full of primary challengers demanding that they cut entitlements. It’s not as big a priority.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                They have literally spent the last three years arguing for entitlement cuts. It is as deep a commitment for Republicans as tax cuts for the wealthy.

                I’m not sure whether you were born in 2009 or slept through the entire Bush administration, but it’s clearly one or the other.

                At any rate, it is in fact very possible that the GOP won’t trade tax cuts for increased spending on Democratic priorities. If so, fine, no deal.

                • Superking says:

                  Again, Scott, you’re imagining a Republican Party that is sane or consistent. They are not. The fact that they voted for spending increases during the Bush Administration is really truly irrelevant to what they are willing to do under the Obama administration. Honestly, what world are you living in?

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  I have no idea whether they would trade tax cuts for discretionary spending increases or not. But it’s certainly more likely than convincing them to vote for upper-class tax increases, since the latter is a non-negotiable Republican position and the former clearly isn’t.

                  And I note again that your statement that I support cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits is a flat-out lie you should explicitly retract.

                • Superking says:

                  Nope. It’s a fairly straightforward implication of what you were saying.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Nope. It’s a fairly straightforward implication of what you were saying.

                  In exactly the same way that Scott posting about baseball implies he is a Yankees fan.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Nope. It’s a fairly straightforward implication of what you were saying.

                  That’s absolutely ridiculous. Not only do I not imply any such thing, the argument about the “Grand Bargain” explicitly contradicts it. You’re just compounding one lie with another.

                • Col Bat Guano says:

                  There’s no hole that can’t be made deeper.

              • somethingblue says:

                They have literally spent the last three years arguing for entitlement cuts. It is as deep a commitment for Republicans as tax cuts for the wealthy.

                They’d certainly like entitlement cuts, and they’d like even more for Democrats to cut entitlements (something a number of Democrats seem strangely eager to sign on for …) but there is nothing that is as deep a commitment for Republicans as tax cuts for the wealthy. Nothing.

              • DivGuy says:

                They have literally spent the last three years arguing for entitlement cuts. It is as deep a commitment for Republicans as tax cuts for the wealthy.

                This is nutty. The Republican Party wasn’t even able to bring privatization to a vote in Congress because they couldn’t get their own representatives to line up behind it. It is true that a lot of Republicans want entitlement cuts, but they have not shown any willingness to make political sacrifices as a party to make such cuts happen.

                The Republican commitment to tax cuts is radically different in both kind and degree from the Republican commitment to entitlement cuts.

              • Gregor Sansa says:

                I think if we chose basic research as our target “nice thing”, there is some chance we could get it in exchange for tax cuts. Especially if some of the research were privatized through “X-prize”-like tricks. You’re right that they’ll never agree to anything that might go to the poors, but though they hate the eggheads too it’s not as much as the poors.

                That’s not my favorite outcome, but I think that the good for the economy and good for science would outweigh the regressive aspects. Especially if it were temporary.

              • Malaclypse says:

                They have literally spent the last three years arguing for entitlement cuts. It is as deep a commitment for Republicans as tax cuts for the wealthy.

                This is true, in the world where Medicare part D never happened.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  Superking is is completely wrong on Scott’s position. Scott never said anything about agreeing to entitlement cuts, and explicitly argued the opposite.

                  But I think he’s right about Republicans’ commitment to entitlement cuts. The Republican Party has changed a lot since 2001. Those few stupid billionaires from Texas that Eisenhower was talking about basically run the party today.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  If they can buy off some older voters by increasing entitlements, and leverage that into a tax cut, they will take that trade in a heartbeat. They make that calculation then, and they won’t change.

                  The only entitlements they care about are ones that piss off old white people.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  You think this is true of Ted Cruz? You think this is true of the Koch brothers?

                  I think there are some fanatical, ideological wingnuts out there, and some pluotocrats who have their hearts set on our retirements.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  You think this is true of Ted Cruz? You think this is true of the Koch brothers?

                  I think the Koch brothers only care about tax cuts and deregulation, yes.

                  I genuinely don’t know if Cruz believes his own bullshit. But if he really and for true wanted to stop deficit spending, he just missed his best chance.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  I think the spirit of the Republicans who opposed Social Security back in the 1930s is alive and resurgent in the party.

                  It’s not about the deficit. It’s about the Commanding Heights, about who’s going to control that huge pile of money and what they’re going to do with it.

                • DrDick says:

                  That is not what the voices in his head say or what they tell him Scott said.

          • mark f says:

            What Scott is saying in the linked article:

            if you ignore deficits — which in the current economic context you pretty much can — you might be able to get something worthwhile

            in exchange for tax rates going down/no going up.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            That’s not what Scott is saying in the linked article. He’s saying that in negotiations with Republicans, you can’t get tax increases and therefore shouldn’t try.

            What you both are leaving out is the other side of the equation. Republicans don’t want spending increases. They want spending cuts, except for the Defense Department. In so far as it’s not possible to reach an agreement with Republicans to raise taxes, it’s equally impossible to reach an agreement with them that increases spending on programs for the poor, i.e. the “nice things” that Atrios thinks we can get for tax cuts on the rich.

            This isn’t hard, people.

            I don’t think this is right — the GOP quite clearly cares more about tax cuts than spending. But, at any rate, your argument that I advocated cutting Social Security and Medicare is either the result of illiteracy or a flat-out lie. Among other things, you seem to miss that I oppose a “Grand Bargain.”

            • DivGuy says:

              Right. It might not work, given the Tea Party constraints on legislators but the deal is they get tax cuts, we get spending increases.

              “Tax cuts and spending increases” is a good summary of Republican fiscal policy when they control the levers of power, so it is at least conceivable they’d accept it when they don’t.

              • Gregor Sansa says:

                Especially if, as I say above, the spending increases are on stuff they don’t hate but which aren’t evil. Which is a pretty small overlap, but includes basic science, if you squint.

              • Superking says:

                And their agenda when they don’t control the White House is “DEFICITS ARE GOING TO DESTROY US ALL!!!!”

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  You seem to be confusing their rhetoric with their actual policy priorities. That’s pretty pathetic.

                • Superking says:

                  Scott, when was the last time you actually looked at their policy priorities? Maybe this will enlighten you: http://heritageaction.com/key-votes/yes-on-the-rscs-back-to-basics-budget/

                  This is the sort of thing that they want even when we’re not talking about a grand bargain. No one gives a shit about a grand bargain, dude, and it doesn’t really help your bona fides to say that you oppose it. Upcoming negotiations are about budgeting for the next year, not trying to resolve all issues for the foreseeable future. This is what Reid is saying in the article, but note that he is also saying that he would take a grand bargain if it were possible. It’s just not possible now. Your point is that because taxes are off the table, we should try to get something else. This is what they want, Scott. They want a budget, not a grand bargain, that reduces entitlement spending.

                  Now you’ve said elsewhere in this thread that maybe they won’t agree to a deal that doesn’t raise taxes but increases spending. It’s fucking stupid to think they would ever agree to that. I may be pathetic, but at least I’m not fucking stupid.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Now you’ve said elsewhere in this thread that maybe they won’t agree to a deal that doesn’t raise taxes but increases spending.

                  So, offering this, and making the case that increased spending is a positive good, hurts what, exactly? Be specific and use examples of the negative consequences that could follow.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Scott, when was the last time you actually looked at their policy priorities?

                  Anybody who knows anything about politics knows that you don’t focus on mere policy proposals — you place greater weight on how politicians behave when they’re in a position of power. (Using your methodology, one would conclude that Republicans favor the ACA.) If you actually do this, it’s overwhelmingly clear that upper-class tax cuts are a much higher priority for the GOP than cutting spending.

                  Now, perhaps they really have changed and they now support spending cuts so intensely they won’t take cuts in return for increased spending. Then fine — no deal. Nobody’s saying it’s guaranteed, or even likely, to work.

                  And, again, I note that you continue to flat out lie about my position and still haven’t retracted it.

                • Col Bat Guano says:

                  Don’t sell yourself short, Superking, you’re plenty fucking stupid.

            • Superking says:

              Opposing a “grand bargain” isn’t relevant, Scott. There are other negotiations that don’t involve grand bargains. You’re misunderstanding of Reid’s point in the linked article is pretty clear evidence of this. Here’s the longer quote from the article:

              “You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security. Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. That is not going to happen this time. There is not going to be a grand bargain,” Reid said. “What we need to do is have Murray and her counterpart in the House, Ryan, work together to come up with something to get out of this senseless sequestration and start the budgeting process so that we can do normal appropriation bills.”

              Reid said Republicans would have to agree to more tax revenue to get anywhere near a bigger deal.

              “They have their mind set on doing nothing, nothing more on revenue, and until they get off that kick, there’s not going to be a grand bargain on — there’s not going to be a small bargain,” Reid said. “We’re just going to have to do something to work our way through sequestration.”

              Reid is explicitly contradicting your point in the previous article. He is saying that tax increases are a prerequisite for a “bigger” deal. That’s why there won’t be a grand bargain–because tax increases must be part of the deal. You’re saying that, because tax increases won’t be part of the deal, we should try to get other stuff instead.

              • DivGuy says:

                No, he’s saying that we should change the deal.

                Entitlement cuts for tax increases is likely to be a bad deal, and it’s a non-starter anyway.

                Tax cuts for spending increases could be a good deal, and might be possible.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                Reid is explicitly contradicting your point in the previous article. He is saying that tax increases are a prerequisite for a “bigger” deal.

                No, he’s agreeing entirely with me by saying that a “Grand Bargain” involving Social Security is obviously impossible since Dems would require tax increases and there are no circumstances under which GOP would vote for tax increases. (In my opinion, this is a good thing since this deal would be terrible even in an alternate universe where it was possible.)

                You’re just in miles over your head here; you have no idea what you’re talking about.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  If Scott wrote, “Republicans who want to cut Social Security can kiss my ass,” Superking would be calling him a sellout who’s negotiating prices.

      • JKTHs says:

        It sounds like you’re confusing Scott with Ezra, who did seem to say something like trading cuts for some vague ability to accomplish other things which wouldn’t happen in real life anyways is a good idea.

      • Manny Kant says:

        What on earth are you talking about? Nobody is advocating giving Republicans entitlement cuts in exchange for nothing. They are advocating trading tax cuts for spending increases.

        • Superking says:

          Again, I ask, what do you think Republicans want on the spending side? Do you think Republicans will agree to increase entitlement spending?

          • Malaclypse says:

            In exchange for a tax cut? Maybe. At least someone would actually be making the case for more spending, which would be a good thing.

            • Superking says:

              You’re fooling yourself.

              • sharculese says:

                What, exactly is your argument here? Are you suggesting that because Scott is open to trading tax cuts for spending increases, he would settle for trading tax cuts for spending cuts? How is that supposed to work?

                • NonyNony says:

                  Judging by this thread his argument can be summed up as:

                  1) I have no reading comprehension skills so I accidentally thought Scott said something he didn’t.

                  2) I’ve been called out on the fact that I misread what he wrote

                  3) I will dig myself in deeper by making up idiotic rationalizations that don’t make sense so that I don’t have to apologize to Scott for misreading what he read.

                  4) Profit!

                  I can’t think of another reading of the shifting sands of Superking’s arguments that make any sense at all.

                • DrDick says:

                  You are assuming, in the face of all evidence, that he actually has anything resembling a coherent argument. All I see is a lack of reading comprehension and a refusal to admit he is wrong.

              • JKTHs says:

                You’re saying it wouldn’t work then. That’s different than saying everyone wants to cut entitlements.

              • mark f says:

                See below. The Democrats don’t have the numbers to force their agenda. They have to negotiate. The argument being presented is that the most frequent suggestion, tax hikes in exchange for cuts, is the wrong approach because it misprioritizes hikes. Conceding those in exchange for nothing is preferable from a policy standpoint, if it leaves one feeling unfulfilled at the negotiating table, than giving something up to get a “win” on taxes.

                This isn’t hard.

                • Superking says:

                  None of these people–Scott, Klein, or Atrios–is saying that they are willing, in a negotiation, to concede tax hikes in exchange for nothing. What they are saying is that tax hikes should not be part of the negotiating strategy, and instead Democrats should give Republicans their priorities in exchange for other Democratic goals, such as infrastructure spending or entitlement spending increases. But the reality here is that entitlement spending cuts are a Republican spending priority. You’re right, it’s not hard.

                • sharculese says:

                  But the reality here is that entitlement spending cuts are a Republican spending priority.

                  Wait, so is the issue here that you don’t actually know what a negotiation is?

                • Patrick says:

                  Wait, so is the issue here that you don’t actually know what a negotiation is?

                  To be fair, given their tactics during the shutdown, neither do the Republicans.

              • Decrease Mather says:

                But how do you go from this to saying Scott wants to offer Medicare/SS cuts?

                • mark f says:

                  Well, Republicans want them and Scott hasn’t burned down their barns. The squish!

                • Superking says:

                  Dude, that’s what Republicans want. They want entitlement spending cuts.

                • Decrease Mather says:

                  But why do you think Scott wants to give them that? He didn’t write “I’ll give them whatever they want,” did he?

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Dude, that’s what Republicans want. They want entitlement spending cuts.

                  Like Medicare Part D? Anyway, I note that you’re still straightforwardly lying about my position.

            • Anonymous says:

              And recall that right now, the House has voted to spend no money whatever on food stamps. A top priority has to get that brought back to minimally acceptable levels. The traditional thing to trade for that is farm subsidies, but that will be tough to achieve. As usual since 2010, I’ll be pleased if we simply manage to keep the loonies from destroying the counry.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      were just last week advocating for offering Medicare and SS cuts…

      [cites omitted]

  2. Barry Freed says:

    Except you, Scott, were just last week advocating for offering Medicare and SS cuts in exchange for .

    Got a link?

  3. mark f says:

    People who think Reid is a weak leader either don’t understand numbers or imagine that they can be wished away.

    • Stan Gable says:

      I don’t think he’s any stronger or weaker than McConnell is. Boehner is sort of the outlier here and I suspect that’s more a function of the house GOP not really having any shared + achievable objectives.

      • pillsy says:

        I don’t think he’s any stronger or weaker than McConnell, but McConnell is, himself, a very effective minority leader. It’s nothing like the situation in the House, where Pelosi has acquitted herself very well, while Boehner has systematically stripped himself of the credibility and power he’d need to keep an unusually fractious and just plain bugfuck caucus under control.

        • Stan Gable says:

          Boehner has systematically stripped himself of the credibility and power he’d need

          I think I recall that Boehner initially positioned himself as someone who would let the caucus find it’s own way. From that standpoint there’s an argument that they sought out someone who’d be a weak leader because they all would rather posture than legislate.

        • mark f says:

          Yes, exactly. McConnell is very, very good at what he does.

          • Stan Gable says:

            What’s the evidence that McConnell today is any better than Reid/Daschle were back in the day? McConnell’s objectives seem to be: keep the lights on while slowing everything to a halt, which is a pretty minimal set of objectives.

            • DivGuy says:

              Because the Democratic Party was constantly splitting and supporting incredibly terrible policy?

              Arguably the job that Daschle had was harder, since his party is more diverse ideologically, but it’s pretty clear that Daschle was far less effective in turning Democratic priorities into reality than his Republican counterpart.

              • aimai says:

                Well but any kind of progressive agenda is harder to implement than the current “fuck you” agenda of the Republican party. McConnell’s republican allies in congress are clearly quite satisfied merely with fucking things up–they don’t have any positive agenda at all. Look how they responded to the complete failure of their shutdown/debt ceiling debacle. The true believers and their voters are happy just because they stood stock still while the world crashed down around them. Thats their definition of success. So McConnell, by that definition, is also a success. He doesn’t prevent his caucus from running wild and he doesn’t advance a republican agenda but who cares. As long as we aren’t retreating and permitting a progressive one we’re doing great is the way they look at it.

              • mark f says:

                Dashle never had more than 51 members in his caucus, and during his tenure both the House and White House were controlled by the other party.

              • Stan Gable says:

                But the AUMF was a majority Democratic position in the Senate and the core debate about the 2001 tax cuts was about how large they should be, not whether or not they should have happened in the first place.

                McConnell doesn’t have to herd cats in the same way – there’s only 1 serious objective – block all Democratic legislation and there’s unanimity within the GOP caucus for that.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              What’s the evidence that McConnell today is any better than Reid/Daschle were back in the day?

              Look at how effective the Senate Republicans were in stopping, stalling, and weakening Democratic legislation in 2009-2010.

              • Stan Gable says:

                Yeah, they were effective. But then take a look at the Daschle coalition. Are you surprised that he couldn’t derail massive tax cuts and the war in Iraq?

                In other words, there’s a lot more room between Barbara Boxer and Zell Miller than there is between Susan Collins and Ted Cruz.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  True. But it seems pretty obvious to me that Reid has done a much better job than Daschle.

                • Stan Gable says:

                  But it seems pretty obvious to me that Reid has done a much better job than Daschle.

                  Maybe by a marginal amount – I don’t think there’s that much space between Dole, Lott, McConnell, Reid & Daschle compared to the distance between the effective and ineffective House Speakers. Frist seems like the outer marker for differentiation but the Senate just doesn’t offer that much space for differentiation.

            • Sly says:

              Not much evidence he was better than Reid during the latter’s minority leader days. But more effective than Daschle, though that’s not a particularly high bar to clear.

      • mark f says:

        Ohhhh, thanks. I never remember to read that blog anymore :(

      • Manju says:

        From Malaclypse’s link:

        The flip side, of course, is there was still that rare and mythical beast, a liberal Republican, in those times. Six of those Republicans voted for the CRA, helping break the filibuster.

        Am I missing something or is this a doozy?

        He’s obviously talking about the Senate (filibuster) but 27 Republicans, liberal and conservative, voted for the CRA (7 opposed).

        Maybe he means cloture? In that case its 23-9. WTF?

    • Hogan says:

      Green Lanterned away, more like.

    • aimai says:

      I agree that Reid is a strong leader–but he’s not a strong public face for the democratic party or for the policies he is clearly supporting. I think thats what makes people on the left antsy. I really respect the job he has done on the shutdown and the debt ceiling and retroactively I think he did a pretty good job herding cats to get the aCA. That being said Reid’s focus, perhaps as it should be, is herding cats and maintaining a working relationship with the people he simply has to be able to work with. He isn’t going to ever be an Alan Grayson style showboat. Take the quoted piece from the radio interview. He tells the interviewer that there isn’t going to be a grand bargain but if that is all he said he hasn’t advanced the cause at all because listeners who have been primed to think the grand bargain is NECESSARY simply here another Democrat refusing to do what is obviously necessary. You really have to attack the premise of the question each and every time, figuring that repetition is hugely important in influencing the outside game of polling and voters. But Reid goes instantly to the inside game “what we have to do” and the narrow focus of the Senate as a spot where negotiations happen.

      The one thing you can say for Republicans–and its why they have done as well as their crappy politics can let them–is that they stay on grand message all the fucking time. Did you let the dog out? The Debt is too damned high! Did you remember to make your dentist appointment? The Debt is Too Damn High! Slash entitlements. Pretty soon people don’t even ask any questions, they know your answer. Reid doesn’t manage that part of his job, the public face part, very well.

      • Steve LaBonne says:

        A legislative leader is supposed to be a workhorse and not a show horse. Harry is good at his actual job, and that’s good enough for me.

        • njorl says:

          It’s interesting how my opinion of Reid has improved since Obama was elected. Getting him out of the spotlight and into the trenches was good for his image.

          • aimai says:

            Im not talking about his image with us–I’m talking about advancing an across the board democratic agenda of protecting medicare and social security. Every time someone asks you about them you had better have a way ofa nswering that question that is not a process answer but a moral/historical answer. For whatever its worth Pelosi knows that and Reid doesn’t.

      • Manju says:

        I agree that Reid is a strong leader–but he’s not a strong public face

        O’ please. Try waking up every morning to this…then try complaining about your Senate Leader not having a strong public face.

      • panda says:

        But had any congressional leader in the last 20 years? It seems the job requires a skill set and ideological positioning that is not likely to make one a Grayson style showboat. The one exception to that rule is Newt Gingrich, and he was a a disaster for his party.

  4. Linnaeus says:

    Give ‘em hell, Harry.

  5. Heck with it, let’s bring back earmarks.

    • pete says:

      Seriously, yes. Just because they did get badly abused does not mean that horse-trading has no place — in a system that is effectively dependent on horse-trading.

      • West of the Cascades says:

        And earmarks are sometimes the way that budgeting OUGHT to be done – e.g. “we need a new research center for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, let’s locate it in a congressional district that’s close to where (1) a lot of scientists in the relevant fields already work and/or (2) a lot of the potential manufacturers of new antibiotics have their research and development facilities.” Or specific money to develop transitional programs for former timber communities where mills have shut down (and should never reopen). Targeting federal money to specific projects that benefit specific districts is not inherently unwise nor improper.

        Abuse would probably be minimized if we had a more transparent budgeting process (of course, that presumes we ever have ANY budgeting process at any point in the future) – why not have a “earmarks.congress.gov” website where earmarked projects must be posted with an explanation of their benefit from the sponsoring member? Even more fun would be if it had a public comments section.

  6. Lee Rudolph says:

    What I want to know is, why can’t Harry Reid keep those superkers from superking so damned much?

  7. joe from Lowell says:

    Reid is like a deceptively good center fielders. You don’t see him making a lot of spectacular catches because he get to the ball, so all his catches look easy.

    And he doesn’t sprawl himself out trying to make some one in a million highlight-reel catch, and miss and let the ball get behind him. So, naturally, the less high-information fans boo because he’s not really trying, man.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Good analogy. It’s applicable with presidents as well; people really need to read Nuestadt. Effective presidents aren’t in the habit of starting lots of fights they can’t win.

    • Manju says:

      I played CF on a corporate team. I would intentionally run slow while appearing to hustle. Then, at the very last moment, I’d dive for the ball and catch it.

      High-5′s all around.

  8. [...] 12. Just how good a Majority Leader has Harry Reid been? Scott Lemieux makes the case that he’s been very good indeed. I agree — although I’m in the minority, since I think both parties in both chambers have very solid leaders right now. [...]

  9. Hob says:

    Oh man, I just spent the last 45 minutes arguing on Facebook with a very smart lefty friend of mine who is absolutely convinced that this means Obama is really, really, for sure, any day now going to propose Social Security cuts, because what else could a bunch of vague rhetoric about being open to compromise possibly mean in a speech to a business group?

    I asked him why he thinks this is so significant, compared to the many, many other times in the last 5 years that people have raised the same alarm over equally meaningless statements that came to nothing. His response was basically “because they keep making statements like this, so it’s clearly an ongoing effort.” Also, the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is that the Republicans weren’t willing to compromise. Arrrgghghghghggrgrgrh I just can’t any more.

    • Hob says:

      Also, my friend explains that even though cutting SS would obviously be incredibly unpopular, Obama is making the “political calculation” that voters won’t notice if he calls the cuts something other than cuts, and if he says it’s necessary to compromise with the Republicans so they won’t keep causing crises. I said I don’t think Obama is dumb enough to think that voters are dumb enough to buy that, and he responded that I shouldn’t use the word “dumb” if we’re to have an “adult conversation.”

    • Hob says:

      If anyone’s still reading this thread – before I finally bailed on that Facebook conversation, my friend posted a link to this poll claiming that there’s significant popular support for some degree of SS/Medicare cuts because OMG THE DEBT. He’s not arguing that that’s a sensible position, but that it’s new information that will convince Obama that the voters can be fooled into accepting SS cuts.

      Now, it’s my very strong impression, based on having paid some amount of attention for the last 20-odd years, that there’s been some outfit like “Campaign to Fix the Debt” releasing polls like this about every five minutes. Although it’s very unlikely to make a difference to my friend, I’m curious whether there is any handy historical reference to show whether that’s the case.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      A certain brand of leftists are absolutely married to that notion. They can’t get out of bed in the morning unless they believe they’re engaged in a noble fight to save Social Security from evil centrist Democrats.

      On another site, I replied to a comment about how the failure to cut a deficit-reduction deal would mean “another year of stalemate.” I wrote,

      Yes, stalemate! Yes, another yr without a budget! (1+ / 0-)
      Let’s have this conversation again after we’ve spent another year destroying the Republican party, and the Democrats hold the House.

      And so, leftist whackaloon replies with,

      Good idea (0+ / 0-)
      back off now, and just hope that people forget about it.

      Ah, but what are ya gonna do, with bigmouths like me around to remind them? I’m really looking forward to advocacy this election cycle :)

      You think negotiating with Republicans over the deficit is a plot to cut Social Security? Naw, not negotiating with Republicans over deficit reduction is really a plot to cut Social Security.

  10. Rusty Spikefist says:

    IDK, “terrifically effective” may be overstating the case. But he’s demonstrated a threshold competence at, and commitment to, defending core Democratic priorities at a level that the President certainly never has.

  11. Deb says:

    Wow such a good webpage.

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