Political Animal


October 19, 2011 11:30 AM Reid hurts Senate GOP’s feelings

By Steve Benen

A week ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for the first time, broached a sensitive subject, suggesting his Republican colleagues may be trying to sabotage the economy on purpose for political gain. “Republicans think that if the economy improves, it might help President Obama,” he said. “So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.”

Seven days later, the other side of the aisle is still grumbling about it.

The accusations from the blunt Nevada Democrat have irritated Republicans, and complicated Reid’s effort to hold a bipartisan meeting with senators in the near future.

In the Senate, where lawmakers routinely address their adversaries as “my friend,” Reid’s attack on GOP motives is a jarring break from traditional decorum.

Well, it couldn’t have been that jarring. For one thing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said the same thing, even more explicitly, many times, as have a wide variety of prominent pundits and political observers. For another, it took a week for The Hill to even mention it.

To his credit, Reid did not walk back the comments, and an aide told The Hill, “Sen. Reid speaks his mind.” Indeed, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin backed Reid up, asking, “Since the Republicans are not offering any jobs plan with any credibility to it, you have to say to them: ‘Do you really care?’ “

The article includes no quotes or even paraphrases from any Republican senators, probably because they still hope to avoid a larger debate over whether or not the GOP is actively involved in a campaign to deliberately undermine the economy.

But if Senate Republicans are going to grumble behind the scenes about Reid hurting their feelings, they should be prepared to address the underlying issues. Why have Republicans rejected every popular jobs proposal with bipartisan ideas? Why did the GOP unveil an alternative jobs plan that, according to independent analyses, wouldn’t create jobs?

Given recent events — the debt-ceiling scandal, the GOP-driven downgrade, the Republican rejection of any efforts to boost the economy, the GOP leadership’s letter to Bernanke pleading with him to let the economy suffer, the repeated threats of government shutdowns, the death of the American Jobs Act, Republican opposition to every worthwhile component within the White House’s jobs bill — is it really that surprising that the sabotage question would come up from time to time?

I can understand why the subject matter would offend GOP officials. But if they want to put these suspicions about their motives to rest, perhaps Republicans could explain their recklessness and disregard for the nation’s interests.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • j on October 19, 2011 11:35 AM:

    Of course the truth hurts.
    How could the repubs deny this after O,Connell said it was his number one priority to bring Obama down.

  • c u n d gulag on October 19, 2011 11:41 AM:

    "...perhaps Republicans could explain their recklessness and disregard for the nationís interests."

    Uhm, perhaps they can't because they have NO regard for the nation's interests?
    Only their own?

    Party over country!

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 19, 2011 11:44 AM:

    Wish I had the Pearl and fainting couch concession in Washington . I could be a "job creator"

  • k l m on October 19, 2011 11:44 AM:

  • Ladyhawke on October 19, 2011 11:46 AM:

    Leading teabagger: Stop hiring in order to hurt Obama


    If there was ever any doubt that the tea party has no business calling itself patriotic, we got it earlier today. Denver-area teabagger Melissa Brookstone posted a message on Tea Party Nation's messageboard calling for small businesses to stop hiring in order to take a stand against the Obama administration (h/t to PFAW's Right Wing Watch).

    This post is absolutely breathtaking in its unhinged nature. It makes the usual teabagger claims that Obama and the Democrats are ushering in socialism. Supposedly, Obama and the Senate are in cahoots with Hollywood, the media and the Occupy movement to destroy free enterprise. It then calls for small business owners to stop hiring until "this war against business and my country is stopped."

    So let's get this straight. These people claim to be uberpatriots, and now they want to sabotage the economy? The mind reels.



  • walt on October 19, 2011 11:54 AM:

    Republicans know they're vulnerable. And now they're grabbing their togas in horror that someone is questioning their motives. Please. These thugs may wrap themselves in the flag every time a camera is nearby, but their's is the patriotism of scoundrels. And if they don't know it, shout it louder because they must be hard of hearing.

  • T2 on October 19, 2011 11:58 AM:

    hell yeah they are offended. The GOP is used to a hand's off policy where their lies, incompetence and inaction go unmentioned or at best referred to as "both sides do it".
    The GOP can read polls...they know Obama's Job Plan is very popular and they know the GOP approval is hitting the skids. They can also watch TV and see the group of losers that pretend to be the Leaders of the GOP. Yes, they are offended. And scared.

  • deanarms on October 19, 2011 12:08 PM:

    "... the death of the American Jobs Act..." more like the strangulation of the AJA.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on October 19, 2011 12:09 PM:

    OK, see, this is a great job of defining the terms of the debate. If the GOP wants to defend the proposition (though it's false) that they do not want to sabotage the economy, they deserve to be heard! Let the editorial pages and cable news channels be filled with the topic. He said, she said. Is the GOP so cynical as to destroy the country for their own power, or are they just unfortunate it looks that way? Let's discuss it!

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on October 19, 2011 12:12 PM:

    And lest it not be obvious, this debate should have started about 6 months earlier. But maybe wiser minds than mine think the timing is right to get this on the agenda for the elections.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 19, 2011 12:18 PM:

    "I can understand why the subject matter would offend GOP officials."

    "Offend" isn't what the GOP should be feeling when this is brought up. It's fear that their bullshit is being called out. That's it is indeed offense they take just tells how much they know they're being protected by a compliant press that has no intention of offending their corporate masters who have been cowed by the right of the country.

    Just disgusting.

  • Josef K on October 19, 2011 12:20 PM:

    In anticipation of DenverRight popping up and offering a contrarian position, here's an open challenge to anyone who cares to defend the Republican caucus on this:

    Name one piece of legislation (not cheap political stunts disguised as votes) from the last three years that the Republican caucus has sponsored, voted on, and passed which has had a measurable positive impact on the nation's unemployment rate and has grown the GDP.

    When naming said example, include comparisons of the number of jobs created versus number of jobs lost in that same time period. Efficacy of legislation is just as important as who put it up.

    I suspect we'll hear naught but crickets.

  • Quaker in a Basement on October 19, 2011 12:32 PM:

    Delicate bunch, aren't they?

  • kindness on October 19, 2011 1:01 PM:

    Republicans prefer to fight Democrats when Democrats have one hand tied behind their back. When a Democratic official/spokesperson refuses to tie that hand behind their back and proceeds to fight Republicans, Republicans cry 'Foul!'.

    And the media remains complicit in trying to elect the next batch of Republicans.

  • g on October 19, 2011 1:12 PM:

    It's a shame Senator Reid failed to live up to the respectful and dignified example set by our former Vice President Cheney, always a man of decorum and respect when speaking to his colleagues in the Senate.

  • worcestergirl on October 19, 2011 1:20 PM:

    You ask,"Why have Republicans rejected every popular jobs proposal with bipartisan ideas?"

    Simple. They main constituency, big business, loves high unemployment because it lets them cut wages and benefits of their lowly employees. Of course, they have a cute euphemism for it: "productivity enhancement".

    What a bunch of swells.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 19, 2011 1:29 PM:

    @ worcestergirl You have it right . I have been saying that all along . That is what every policy they have is working towards. An uneducated serf class who will grovel for the pittance tossed in their direction .
    Masters degree?
    Why sure we have lots of positions at $10.00 an hour.

  • Anonymous on October 19, 2011 2:51 PM:

    "...jarring break from traditional decorum."

    You mean the Kit Bonds and Liddy Doles of the world (among many, many others) were observing traditional decorum when they said Democrats were rooting for the Iraq insurgency because it helped them in the 2006 mid-terms? What a bunch of WATBs.