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Reid “Absolutely” Majority Leader in Next Congress; Wants to Work Together

Just hopped off a conference call where Harry Reid said the words “work together” about 154 times. The news hook is that the leadership, including Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Bob Menendez, were asked on the call if they supported Reid for Majority Leader, and Schumer and Durbin said simultaneously “Absolutely!” So he’s the Leader, contrary to a couple reports out there.

As I said, the rest was just a recitation of wanting to work together. Reid said, “I look forward to working with new members to find shared solutions to shared problems.” Durbin said, “The lesson of the election is that we need to work together. Playing to a draw in Senate is not acceptable.” Schumer said, “We have to create good jobs and find common ground.” I don’t have a Menendez quote, he was too busy bragging about losing only six Senate seats (at the moment).

Reid and Schumer did put the election into perspective. “The election was tough on all sides, but it’s nothing like what families are facing,” said Reid. “The middle class is hurting,” Schumer added, noting that median income declined over the last decade. “If the pie stops growing we don’t have the America we know, and nobody wants that.”

But as for the specifics, it’s all about, say it with me, “working together.” Someone asked about the defense authorization bill. “It takes a while to get a defense bill done, but if we work together and get some time agreements on amendments, we can do it,” Reid said. Someone mentioned that Mitch McConnell didn’t sound like he wanted to compromise. Reid said he talked to him in the past hour and that the parties are “going to work well together.” Reid said that the Congress has not been difficult (?) but that there has been no input from Republicans. “We should be willing to work with you, you should be willing to work with us, it’s not a one-way street.” Asked why Reid thinks Republicans will work with Democrats when they didn’t before and were rewarded, he said, “I can’t imagine that will continue. They’ve already been identified as the party of No.”

Reid closed with the idea that the ball is in the Republican’s court. “If they aren’t willing to work with us, there’s nothing we can do about that.”

It’s going to be a fun two years.

Postscript: Reid did say categorically that extending the Bush tax cuts permanently, at a cost of $4 trillion dollars, “won’t happen.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen