Reid: Everything Is On The Negotiating Table

Democrats pick up talk of a Grand Bargain in an effort to get Republicans to end the federal government partial shutdown


Senate Democrats are willing to compromise unconditionally with Republicans in order to end the government shutdown, according to a report by the Real News Network.

“Open the government, allow us to pay our bills,” said Senator Harry Reid at a recent press conference.  “And at that time we'll be happy to negotiate about anything they want to talk about.”

Some in the Progressive Caucus warn that further cuts to entitlements should not be on the table.

“Everything is not on the table for me, number one,” said Representative Mike Capuano (D-MA).  “Number two, more importantly, Democrats have already compromised. As far as I'm concerned, we've already compromised too much.”

The Democratically controlled Senate have already agreed to temporary funding levels that are far closer to the Republican-controlled House budget plan.  For example, the Senate's 2014 proposed budget was for over $1 trillion.  The Republican budget proposed $967 billion.

The continuing resolution passed by the Senate came up to $986 billion.

“They agreed to accept the much lower Republican budget figure, the House figure,” said investigative journalist Robert Parry.  “They surrendered the Senate position. This was a proposal that Boehner had presented to them back in July. They accepted this deal.”

“And then Boehner decided that after pocketing that major concession they wanted more,” continued Parry.  “So he and the Tea Party Caucus came up with this idea that if they put the country into sort of a hostage situation, [by using] extortion, they could get their way on other issues, including Obamacare and various other things they've thrown into the mix.”

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Story Transcript

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: It was a simple declaration.

HARRY REID, U.S. SENATOR (D-NV): –open the government, allow us to pay our bills. And at that time we’ll be happy to negotiate about anything they want to talk about.

DESVARIEUX: Senate Democrats rallied behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, showing their support for ending the government shutdown by showing they are willing to negotiate on anything.

BEN CARDIN, U.S. SENATOR (D-MD): If they put down the gun and they say, let’s negotiate, we’re for it. And if you can negotiate in the next couple of hours a grand bargain, I’m all for that. But we’ve been working on that now for years without much success.

DESVARIEUX: But the Senate has already compromised. The Democratically controlled Senate agreed to temporary funding levels that are far closer to the Republican-controlled House budget plan. If you look at the Senate’s 2014 proposed budget, it was for over $1 trillion. The Republican budget was at $967 billion. Did the continuing resolution that the Senate ended up passing meet somewhere in the middle? No. It came up to $986 billion–much closer to the Republican budget.

Senate Democrats’ desire for a grand bargain–or a great betrayal, as economist Bill Black has named it–isn’t sitting very well with those on the House side.

Some in the Progressive Caucus warn that further cuts to entitlements should not be on the table.

REP. MIKE CAPUANO, HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE (D-MA): Everything is not on the table for me, number one. Number two, more importantly, Democrats have already compromised. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve already compromised too much. I voted against the sequester, and yet the sequester was implemented. The Senate continuing the resolution is significantly below the sequester number. I don’t understand why we would have a sequester on top of the sequester. And for me, that’s a–the sequester was a massive compromise, one that was too far for me. I did not support it. And now we want to compromise further on that? And on top of that, if there’s any possibility of throwing delay of health care? And even though, again, I voted for health care, I don’t think it’s a perfect bill. I’m happy to try to fix it. There are things in there I would like to fix. But I’m not happy to throw it out and to stop the experiment.

DESVARIEUX: Though talk of a grand bargain is heating up on the Hill, the first step will be to get the government up and running again. The House passed a bill that would create a bipartisan group of ten House members and ten senators to come up with a budget deal. But critics see this as déjà vu of the supercommittee of 2011, and they argue that this is just another tactic for Republicans to try to get their way.

ROBERT PARRY, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, CONSORTIUMNEWS.COM: They agreed to accept the much lower Republican budget figure, the House figure. They surrendered the Senate position. This was a proposal that Boehner had presented to them back in July. They accepted this deal. And then Boehner decided that after pocketing that major concession they wanted more, so he and the Tea Party Caucus came up with this idea that if they put the country into sort of a hostage situation, use extortion, they could get their way on other issues, including Obamacare and various other things they’ve thrown into the mix.

DESVARIEUX: Parry adds that what is at stake here is democracy. He wrote in a recent article “Koch Brothers’ Samson Option” that the Koch brothers will support the Tea Party even if it means shutting down the government or defaulting on the nation’s debt. Ultimately, Parry says, this is a way for them and other right-wing billionaires to void the democratic process.

PARRY: They feel that for them to maintain control of this country as sort of the white power structure has for over 200 years, that it’s now necessary to take these kinds of extreme steps, pulling down the entire temple on top of themselves if necessary, to ensure that they get their way, not just that they can obstruct various programs and various Democratic approaches, but that they can actually now dictate the kind of outcome they want. If they don’t get it, they’ll do these–they’ll take these steps to wreak havoc. And if the people in the White House and people across the country want to avoid that havoc, they have to surrender.

DESVARIEUX: But surrender does not sound like a viable option for these protestors on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, government employees went to the steps of the Capitol with one simple message for Congress.

GOVERNMENT WORKER: I just really want to get back to work. I feel I have an important job to do, and I want to be able to do it, but they won’t let me.

DESVARIEUX: For The Real News Network, Jessica Desvarieux, Washington.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.