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Reid vs. The Moderates

Harry Reid seemed in no mood early on Thursday to compromise with moderates. He had his votes and he appeared ready to ram things through. But what about the President’s encouraging words to Olympia Snowe? He wouldn’t stiff her and the other moderates, including Red State Democrats who are complaining about all the junk in the bill, would he?

Just that morning, Jim Webb had been on MSNBC saying:

My staff went through this thing a couple nights ago.  We found more than $100 billion of items that really don’t meet those criteria and that’s part of the debate we’re having right now, do we add something with those, or can we take those out?

Well, by early evening Reid sounded more contrite. Perhaps lots and lots of “work” could set things straight. And then after a few hours they all packed up and went home. It seemed that Reid could not, after all, jam through a vote.

We’ll see how it plays out. But time is not on the side of those wanting to preserve the stimulus pork. The public is on to it and doesn’t like it one bit. Aside from the substance of the arguments over the bill, the President’s credibility for dealing fairly with the key swing votes in the Senate is at issue. A Senate Republican adviser had this take:

But if Reid’s going to say no way, the pressure returns to people like Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad, Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh, and Claire McCaskill who have been all over TV talking about all the problems they have with this bill.

The moderate Senators are compiling a list of $90B worth of junky spending to take out of the bill. They may in fact succeed in making the bill more palatable to some Senators — while taking an axe to the Pelosi wish list. That will set the stage for an interesting conference committee. But in the meantime it is painfully obvious that Reid has lost control of the process. I’m sure President Obama can sympathize.



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