More reasons why Harry Reid sucks

Postby truthteller » Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:15 pm

WASHINGTON -- Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell aren't on the Louisiana ballot.

But you wouldn't know it by listening to Democrats and Republicans who are trying to pin blame for congressional gridlock and dysfunction on the Senate leader representing their opponents' party.

Republicans are portraying Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, as responsible for blocking House-passed pro-domestic energy production bills and other legislation opposed by President Barack Obama. Democrats portray McConnell, the Senate Republican minority leader, as so determined to block the president's agenda that he's used procedural measures to block even routine legislation.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, the three-term incumbent in her toughest re-election ballot, turned the cards on Republicans when they ridiculed her supposed clout as the newly installed chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee after her legislation moving the Keystone XL Pipeline forward stalled.

"If Mitch McConnell wants to have a vote on Keystone straight up or down, where he may get 60 votes, he most certainly has the power in his caucus to make that happen," Landrieu said after negotiations to allow a vote stalled. "They're going to probably blow the opportunity to get a vote on Keystone because they just can't help themselves."

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, given the best chance of knocking Landrieu out of the Senate, regularly attacks Reid and appears unlikely to let up as the November open primary nears.

"Harry Reid's failure to move forward with a vote (on the pro-Keystone measure) proves that as long as he controls the U.S. Senate, our energy economy will suffer, Cassidy said.

Tea Party Conservative Republican Rob Maness mentions both Reid and President Obama in his early ads.

"Rob Maness is tough enough to take on President Obama and Harry Reid in the D.C. swamp," proclaims the announcer in one ad.

Certainly, Reid and McConnell generate plenty of controversy, especially with only 13.5 percent of Americans approving of the job Congress is doing, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Democrats point to McConnell's declaration 21 months into the Obama presidency that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

He has insisted on a 60-vote threshold on most legislation, and with a mostly united Republican caucus has blocked votes on most Democratic bills, though Reid changed the rules on most presidential nominations so a simple majority is enough to prevail.

Republicans contend that it wouldn't be so bad if Reid allowed Republican amendments. Now, he mostly "fills the tree," on most bills, meaning he adds his own amendments, many of them just place holders, to block out GOP amendments.

So far, only 37 Senate bills for the 113th Congress, which began January 5, 2013, have become law - one of the most unproductive legislative sessions in history.

Brian Brox, a political scientist at Tulane University, said candidates often "pick symbolic opponents, especially leaders of the opposing party, because they tend to be the most visible."

"Most Americans won't know very many members of the House or Senate, but they might have heard of the Speaker and Minority Leader, or the Senate Majority or Minority Leaders," Brox said.

"Since these politicians are prominent in the media and functionally represent the typical position of their parties, they are good targets for someone running against a moderate. For example, Mary Landrieu is considered one of the most moderate members of the Democratic Party in the Senate, but Reid's greater liberalism makes him an attractive target for someone looking to mobilize angry moderate and conservative voters in Louisiana."

Will it work?

"My guess is that it might work on a limited number of voters who are really attuned to politics, but most voters won't cast ballot thinking strategically about how the winner in Louisiana will affect Senate leadership," Brox said. "The biggest factors this year will be the candidates' records, general partisanship, and differences in who shows up at the polls versus who stays home."

That's probably also true in Kentucky, where McConnell is running for re-election against a well-financed Democrat, Alison Lundergan Grimes. One big issue: Has McConnell's leadership role in the Senate been a plus or minus for Kentucky?

As for Reid, 74, he won re-election as Nevada's senior senator in 2010, and won't be on the ballot again until 2016.
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