Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ruled out a grand bargain, dismissing it as “all happy talk” in a Nevada public radio interview Thursday.
“That’s all happy talk. I would hope that were the case, but we’re not going to have a grand bargain in the near future,” Reid told KNPR radio today. “I hope that we can do some stuff to get rid of sequestration and go on to do some sensible budgeteering. I’ve got a wonderful leader of my budget committee, Patty Murray from the state of Washington, and I feel pretty comfortable that she’ll do a good job for us…. I would hope there would be a grand bargain, but I don’t think that’ll happen.”
Asked if cuts to Social Security and Medicare could be part of the grand bargain, Reid admonished the radio host, saying, “You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security. Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. That is not going to happen this time. There is not going to be a grand bargain.”
Reid said he regrets being “too lenient” in negotiations with Republicans in the past and intends not to repeat the same mistake this time around.
“If you give a bully a dollar today, they want a dollar and a half tomorrow. You cannot do business with bullies,” he said. “It’s taken a while for all my caucus to come to that understanding and I think quite frankly, the president, the wonderful man that he is, he doesn’t like confrontation and he likes to work things out with people.”
“I was too lenient. Don’t blame it all on him,” he added.
The budget conference is set to meet for the first time next Wednesday and is required to produce a report by Dec. 13.
As the administration continues to grapple with how to fix the problems in the Obamacare enrollment site, Reid said there is “no excuse” for the botched rollout this month.
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s no excuse for that,” Reid said. “I think the administration should have known how difficult it was going to be to ask 35 million or 40 million people to suddenly hook up to a place to go on the internet.
“But we’re working on that, and I think within the reasonable future we will be able to start signing people up on the internet also,” he added.
Reid also noted some of the struggles with the site could come with age, saying, “If you’re over age 50, the internet is something that you’re just learning about, and certainly over age 60, that’s certainly a truism.”