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Harry Reid's jobs strategy a puzzle

By Ben Pershing
Harry Reid has never been the most talkative or introspective of politicians, so interpreting his behavior and predicting what he'll do next has long been a popular, and difficult, Capitol parlor game.

Thursday was particuarly puzzling for Reid-watchers. Did the Senate have a bipartisan deal on a jobs bill, or not? Depends on what time during the day you asked the question. First Max Baucus and Charles Grassley rolled out a compromise package, followed quickly by statements of praise from key Republicans and even the White House. And then, within a matter of hours, Reid calmly knocked down the whole house of cards, dismissing a bill that many Senators thought he'd already signed off on.

So is Reid playing offense? "Senate Democrats scrapped a bipartisan jobs bill in favor of one they say is leaner and focused solely on putting Americans back to work, and they're all but daring Republicans to vote against it," the Associated Press reports. Or is the Nevadan just sowing confusion? "Reid led colleagues and the White House to believe he supported a bipartisan jobs bill -- only to scuttle the plan as soon as it was released Thursday over concerns it could be used to batter Democratic incumbents, according to Senate sources," Politico writes. Reid's move, according to the New York Times, "caught some lawmakers by surprise and threatened to undermine Republican support for the proposal even as members of Congress and the White House sought ways of working together across party lines after months of deep partisan division."

Maybe he was just concerned about appearances. Roll Call writes that "one senior Senate Democratic aide said part of Reid's decision rested on Member reaction to news reports earlier this week that made the Baucus-Grassley package seem more like a grab bag for lobbyists than a measure focused on job creation. ... The news stories pointing out that many of the provisions were tax cut extensions favored by business lobbyists alarmed some Senators, the aide said, because the measure would not be perceived 'as a clear victory [for job creation] if it's going to be portrayed as a lobbyist potpourri.'" The Washington Times points out that "minutes after he blocked the bipartisan proposal and introduced his own bill, Mr. Reid, who is in a difficult re-election race, took credit for the move in an e-mail to constituents back home. He said his version 'will help put Nevadans back to work, cut taxes for business, and invest in job-creating transportation projects in our state.'"

The two parties did manage to work together on another issue -- sort of. "The Senate confirmed 27 executive branch nominees Thursday after President Obama threatened earlier in the week to use recess appointments for some of the long-stalled picks," Federal Eye reports. Politico describes a dramatic confrontation on the subject between Obama and Mitch McConnell and writes that "Democrats say that McConnell blinked. Republicans contend that the list shows they're not obstructionist." Roll Call notes that Obama "warned that while he is 'gratified' that Republican Senators released some of his nominees, there are still dozens on hold -- and he won't hesitate to use his authority to use recess appointments the next time around if nothing changes." More broadly, Peggy Noonan looks at Obama and finds he "doesn't seem a man at sea who's flailing and trying to grab any deck chair that floats by. He seems a man who is certain he is right, in the long term if not in the day-to-day. And if the cost of being right is a single term, then so be it."

On national security, The Washington Post reports that Obama "is planning to insert himself into the debate about where to try the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks" and adds that Eric Holder, "in an interview Thursday, left open the possibility that Mohammed's trial could be switched to a military commission, although he said that is not his personal and legal preference." Politico says that "Lindsey Graham has told colleagues that he's negotiating with the White House over legislation aimed at heading off the possibility of civilian criminal trials for suspects in the 9/11 attacks." Stuart Taylor weighs in on the Miranda rights controversy, arguing that "the rationalizations by ... Holder and other administration apologists have been so breathtakingly bereft of seriousness about the need for aggressive interrogation to protect our country." The AP examines "the first major victory in [Obama's] war on terrorism" -- the strike that killed Baitullah Mehsud -- and notes that "long before he went on the defensive in Washington for his handling of the failed Christmas Day airline bombing, Obama had widened the list of U.S. targets abroad and stepped up the pace of airstrikes."

Amid uncertainty over the fate of the health-care reform bills his group backed, Billy Tauzin is stepping down as head of PhRMA. The former Louisiana lawmaker "is resigning as president of the pharmaceutical industry's trade group amid internal disputes over its pact with the White House to trade political support for favorable terms in the proposed health care overhaul," the New York Times writes, adding that his "resignation is the latest unexpected fallout of the Republican upset in the Massachusetts Senate race, which abruptly transformed the health care overhaul from a near inevitability to a daunting cause." The Los Angeles Times says Tauzin "has been under fire from the left and the right of the political spectrum -- and from many of his fellow business lobbyists, of whom he was perhaps the highest paid, with compensation of more than $2 million a year." And Politico takes a shot: "Lobbyists familiar with the situation said Tauzin's departure has less to do with legislative strategy than it does with drug company chief executives who were unhappy with Tauzin's work ethic and management style."

Elsewhere on the health front, the Wall Street Journal reports that "the Obama administration is seizing on a big health-insurance rate increase by WellPoint Inc. in California as fresh evidence of the need for action as it tries to resuscitate its health-care legislation." Paul Krugman, shockingly, thinks Republicans are hypocrites when it comes to Medicare: "Furious denunciations of any effort to seek cost savings in Medicare -- death panels! -- have been central to Republican efforts to demonize health reform. What's amazing, however, is that they're getting away with it." Ezra Klein takes on the theory that it's all Rahm's fault: "it's a bit weird to see so much blame accruing to Rahm Emanuel for the administration's woes. Emanuel wasn't part of the campaign team. He was brought in to help govern. In that capacity, his primary job was shepherding the administration's agenda through the legislative process. Ugly as that process was, Emanuel -- and more to the point, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- did a fairly masterful job at it."

In Rhode Island, another chapter of the Kennedy saga is coming to a close. "Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, the last member of his famous family still serving in elective office, has decided not to seek a ninth term in Congress," the Providence Journal reports, adding that Kennedy made the announcement "in an emotion-laden advertisement released by his office Thursday that will air Sunday night." The Boston Globe says "Kennedy made the decision based on 'some personal struggles,'' including the death in August of his father, Edward M. Kennedy, according to a Democratic official briefed on the decision." Across the aisle, The Washington Post looks at three recent Republican retirements and wonders "whether the GOP is losing momentum in its quest to score major gains at the ballot box this fall. "

In a story headlined, "Why the mainstream media loves Sarah Palin" (subhed: "We know how to get Web traffic"), Politico writes: "Fox News has been making a serious charge about mainstream political reporters: They hate Sarah Palin. This is not just wrong, it's absurd. The reality is exactly the opposite: We love Palin. And if Palin does not exactly love us, she's smart enough to recognize how quickly reporters devour every provocative remark she utters. She knows how to exploit our weakness to guarantee herself exposure far out of proportion to her actual influence in Republican politics. It's a tangled, symbiotic affair--built on mutual dependency and mutual enabling." Maybe it's not so mutual. The Orlando Sentinel reports that "Palin will make two high-profile, big-ticket appearances in Central Florida during the next month -- but she doesn't want any media coverage. The former Alaskan governor, ex-vice-presidential candidate and best-selling author has banned all video and sound recordings of her upcoming speeches in Daytona Beach and at the Lincoln Day dinner of the Orange County Republican Committee." The Fix argues that "while there's little question that Palin is a prime mover in the 2012 race if she decides to run, it's a far dicier proposition to describe her as the emerging favorite in the race."

By Ben Pershing  |  February 12, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Next: Debra Medina, Texas gubernatorial candidate, raises eyebrows with comments on 9/11, Obama's birth certificate


Kudos to Sen. Reid for slimming down a pork-laden bill, whatever his motivations.

The Baucus-Grassley version was more Washington-usual, a popular concept larded up with extras at taxpayer expense. Why spend $85 billion, if $15 billion will do the trick? Even if Reid's version isn't perfect, it's a lower-cost start.

I'd like to think my senators, Feingold and Kohl, will sign on to this more focused jobs bill--rather than the more costly "omnibus: something for everyone" bill.

Posted by: bulldog6 | February 13, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Tommybaseball:It is good to see that the GOP responders are so on message.
Wouldn't it save space, however, if they sent one message and put all their names on it instead of 10 or 15 re-statements of the same talking point?
It certainly would cut down on the boredom factor and mean you don't have to skip so many posts to get to something original and interesting.
I'm not a Republican but when the Democrats are calling for bi-partisanship and then Reid pulls this stunt, that is really really telling that some of the Democrats do not want bi-partisanship!

Posted by: warhawk911 | February 12, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"The Party's Over, it's time to call it a day.
They've burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away.

It's time to wind up the masquerade.
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid.

Now you must wake up, all dreams must end.
Take off your make up, The Party's Over.
It's all over, my friend."--The Bells are Ringing

Posted by: houston123 | February 12, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Fox News has been making a serious charge about mainstream political reporters: They hate Sarah Palin. This is not just wrong, it's absurd."

No, it's not absurd.

The MSM coverage of Palin is almost always accompanied by some derisive criticism. Liberals and MSM love to hate Palin.

The amount of coverage she gets is determined by what they can portray as negative.

There is relentless derision of the "palm-a-prompter", a device used by many. Including Dianne Feinstein, a liberal senator from California.

Posted by: spamsux1 | February 12, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The Party's Over, it's time to call it a day.
They've burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away.

It's time to wind up the masquerade.
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid.

Posted by: houston123 | February 12, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Reid pared it down because some democrats were worried about the appearance of pork projects or what-not (I am not sure what those would be), so he wants a quick vote on those things both sides agree on the most. What he doesn't want is the complete jobs bills held up because Democrats can't come together and agree right away.

Or likewise, held up because of potentially republican turncoats.

most America wants to see real action on a jobs aid package, Reid will take a small win for now.

Posted by: yarbrougharts | February 12, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Feinstein wants to attach a water bill to it for California, Webb wants to increase taxes on bank bonues, even the ones who paid back TARP. Of course no taxes on Fannie and Freddie exec bonuses, or Auto manufacture bonues.

So instead of a bill that gave tax breaks to business, individual and helped hiring, the jobs bill will be filled with progressive pork.

Posted by: win1 | February 12, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

What a surprise. The loony-left d-crat socialists, once again, pursue "their way or the highway" approach and pi$$ on anything even close to bipartisanship.

Does anyone need further proof that the "healthcare summit" is just a farcical d-crat socialist stunt?

Posted by: TeaPartyPatriot | February 12, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Everything Harry does is a puzzle.

One reason he won't be back

Posted by: tom_walker | February 12, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It is good to see that the GOP responders are so on message.
Wouldn't it save space, however, if they sent one message and put all their names on it instead of 10 or 15 re-statements of the same talking point?
It certainly would cut down on the boredom factor and mean you don't have to skip so many posts to get to something original and interesting.

Posted by: TOMMYBASEBALL | February 12, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

tncdel - What jobs are "foreign nationals" stealing from Americans? Does Obama really "serve" illegal aliens? Really? Serve???? Really????

Posted by: TOMMYBASEBALL | February 12, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Reid's actions yesterday prove the Dems have never even considered a bi-partisan approach since Obama's inaugauration. Obama, Pelosi and Reid have used the words but all three have been and are liars.

It is the Dems that have destroyed Washington and the good voters in Virginia, New Jersey & Massachusetts recognized this and took retribution against the dems.

The Dems have accuses the Republicans of being the "Party of NO" - Reid's actions yesterday prove who the true culprits of gridlock in Washington are. The GOP now has no choice but to defend the American' people with their 41 Senate votes and take over Capitol Hill in November 2010.

Posted by: Realist20 | February 12, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

What puzzle? Reid is trying to save his job.

Posted by: win_harrington | February 12, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

This is a fairly transparent roll-out of the attack Obama and the progressives are going to use against the Republicans to try and safe their sorry behinds in November. If the Republicans now vote against this, then go to the "health care" debate and say no, then the progressive democrats will feel vindicated in using reconciliation saying, "See we cannot get any cooperation we have to pass our socialist, statist, Marxist agenda for the good of the people."

Obama will then start jousting with the Republican Party in place of Bush on his never ending campaign trail.

The problem is that there are many angry voters marking each day off the calendar until November 2010. Pelosi, Reid, Waxman, Boxer, Miller, Lee, Waters, McNerney, Lincoln, and a few other gems are just some of the targets of that anger.

This stimulus 4 bill, or whatever you want to call it will do nothing other than create more debt. Cancel TARP, cancel the porkulous and create a focused bill that will improve the economy and jobs.

There is a massive wave of anger that is going to break on DC and many of these pond scum are going to be washed out of office in November 2010.

The Washington Post is as worthless as mammary glands on a boar hog when it comes to political analysis.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | February 12, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

So much for bi-partisanship! Both parties create a bi-partisan bill and Reid and the left killed it because of "concessions to the Republicans"

Hopefully the Republicans and Democrats retaliate against them and vote against whatever comes from Reid!

Posted by: warhawk911 | February 12, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Hey Ben Pershing what Senile Harry Reid is
doing here pal,you ask? Okay I can tell you
very clearly that Horrid Harry Ried is just
showing off this growing senility and old
age dementia and once again proving exactly
how totally incompetent and completely out
of touch with reality Reid is now then...
And Harry Reid,Mr 10 Points Behind 4 GOP
Candidate in his own State of Neveda,just
following the inept,corrupt,incompetent
misleadership of Comrade Hugo Chavez Wannabe Barack Hussein Obama,Joker Joe Biden,SF Madwoman Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senile Sleazy Steny Hoyer.

Posted by: carleen09 | February 12, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"The Senate confirmed 27 executive branch nominees Thursday after President Obama threatened earlier in the week to use recess appointments for some of the long-stalled picks," Federal Eye reports.

If Obama acts more decisively, he is apt to find or generate more support and possibly even fewer scathing posts.

Many appointees remain on hold....

Posted by: FirstMouse1 | February 12, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Harry Reid's job strategy is NOT a puzzle.

For it is clear that he is trying to REDUCE the number of jobs for Americans,

because Reid staunchly advocates giving jobs to foreign nationals here illegally who are STEALING jobs from Americans.

Same with Obama, Pelosi and all the other TRAITORS in Congress serving the interests of foreign nationals here illegally by advocating amnesty, "free" college, etc. for them

even though the overwhelming majority of voters who elected them OPPOSE such things.

It's time to IMPEACH Reid, Obama and everyone else who serve illegal aliens.

Posted by: tncdel | February 12, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I would not trust any bill that comes from Baucus/Grassley. Look at how they sabotaged Health Care Reform in favor of their campaign donations, personal gains and big business.
Isn't it sad that our president has to issue threats to get anything passed for the betterment of our country? Isn't it sad that we have a political party that has stooped to the level the republicans have? They are a disgrace to our country.

Posted by: kathlenec | February 12, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

A job without justice is slavery by another name. Until Congress and Obama restore the rule of law in America, his presidency cannot fulfill his promise.


* Thousands of Americans slandered as "dissidents" or undesirables, targeted by Bush legacy program for debilitating, cell tower- based microwave assault, held hostage in their own homes to fed-supported vigilante "community policing" stalking units equipped with warrantless GPS devices, who vandalize and terrorize as local police look the other way.

* Electromagnetic frequency microwave/laser weapons -- a nationwide installation employing cell towers and satellites -- silently, invisibly induce weakness, exhaustion, mood changes, pain, head and body aches, physical and neurological impairment, strokes, aneurysms, cancer -- and many victims do not realize what is making them sick.

* Regional Homeland Security- administered "fusion centers" reportedly serve as command centers for covert electromagnetic radiation attacks, pervasive surveillance, financial sabotage of those identified as "dissidents," "trouble-makers" or slandered as threats to society.

* Use of microwave weaponry to torture and impair political opponents recently confirmed by deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya.

* Pleas for justice, to local police and FBI, go unanswered -- as do demands for a Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigation and congressional hearings.

"These are crimes against humanity and the Constitution, being perpetrated under the cover of national security and 'safe streets' by multiple federal and local agencies and commands -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight, enabled by the naivete of those who think 'it can't happen here.'" -- Victor Livingston, former reporter for WTXF-TV Philadelphia, Phila. Bulletin, N.Y. Daily News, St. Petersburg Times; producer/host, MSG Network Sports Business Report; columnist,

See: (Journalism Groups -- REPORTING" section) OR

BUCKS COUNTY, PA- BASED MAGLOCLEN FUSION CENTER -- "Mid-Atlantic States Ground Zero of an American Gestapo"

OR (see "stories" list).

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 12, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

As much as I dislike Rahm Emanuel, he is really a tactician. Once given the strategy, it is Rahm's job to devise the tactics to get it done.

The fault in Obama's administration is the strategy of a cursory and poor attempt at economic recovery (Paul Volcker are you listening?) and quickly to the controversial policies and trying to use Obamamania to push those policies through.

I am anti-Obama so I hope Axelrod stays.

But if I'm Obama,

David Axelrod - you're fire.

Posted by: hz9604 | February 12, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Puzzle? Sham would be more like it.

Posted by: sam51 | February 12, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I LIKED THE SENTENCE: "The message is so watered down, with people wanting other things in this big package that we're going to have to come back and finish [the jobs agenda later]," Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, told reporters. IF I COULD ASK THIS SIMPLE QUESTION. WHAT WAS THE FIRST STIMULUS BILL SUPPOSE TO ACCOMPLISH? HOW MANY TIMES WILL THEY COME TO AN EMPTY WELL FOR WATER? WHEN WILL AMERICANS THAT WORK HARD AND REALLY LOVE THERE COUNTRY SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? WILL IT BE NOVEMBER 2010?

Posted by: paulheinleinsr | February 12, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

It would have been far better for the Democrats had the Baucus/Grassly bill not been released and the White House had not cheered it so publicly, but Reid's strategy is still sound. Force Republicans to stand by their shifting principles and vote against or filibuster these bills. They won't, of course, knowing they would get hammered by voters desperate for jobs.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 12, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

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