Harry Reid agrees to $73 billion in cuts?

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Appearing on CBS News’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Senate Democrats and House Republicans have agreed to $73 billion in cuts. That number is $73 billion less than President Barack Obama’s budget, though, not $73 billion less than what’s actually in the current budget. Obama’s budget never passed.

Reid’s plan is really only $33 billion in cuts from the actual budget, but Schieffer never challenged Reid on that spin.

House Speaker John Boehner adamantly denies any agreement, but Schieffer never questioned Reid on that either, nor did the newsman make any mention of it.

“This is more than numbers,” Reid said. “This involves people. What they did with H.R. 1 is this bill did such mean-spirited things, not to cut the debt, but to send an ideological message. For example, little kids, Head Start, these are the poor little children around the country, little boys and girls, who want to get a head start.”

Schieffer asked the Senate Majority Leader if he thought Boehner and “Republicans who have been here [in Washington, D.C., where Face the Nation is broadcast from] for a while,” were “afraid” of the Tea Party movement. Reid replied that he thought “that’s a pretty good choice of words.”

“The answer is yes,” Reid said. “The Tea Party is dictating a lot of what goes on in the Republican leadership in the House, and they shouldn’t. It shouldn’t be that way. We’ve agreed on a number, let’s work to get that number done. We realize the country needs to do something about spending and the long-term benefits of doing something about the deficit are significant but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We, during the Clinton years, reduced the debt for four years. We paid down the debt, we know how to do this, but we don’t do it on the backs of middle-class Americans.”

Schieffer then allowed Reid to keep railing on Republicans’ $61 billion budget cuts plan in their long-term Continuing Resolution (CR), or H.R 1, which would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

“Remember this: what H.R. 1 does, what the House is trying to do is send out a message that, ‘we’re going to balance the budget,’” Reid said, with a chuckle. “But, they’re doing it with about 10 percent of the budget – you can’t do that. These are the domestic discretionary programs. Let’s assume, for the purposes of our discussion here, that we eliminated everything [in domestic discretionary programs], that is, we got rid of all the courts, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the Immigration and Naturalization, Congress, everything, if we got rid of it, it still wouldn’t balance the budget.”

Reid then offered his solution: look at the long term negative side effects of spending habits and stop giving tax breaks to oil companies.

If Reid and Boehner can’t get a CR passed by the end of this week, the government will shut down. Reid said he “always looks at the glass as half full” and expects the two parties will be able to work something out.

“It’s so easy to do,” Reid said. “We’re really, in Washington terms, just a few dollars short of being able to do this.”