Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is getting excoriated by both liberal and conservative media for his claims that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may not have paid any taxes for ten years. The charge, claims Reid, came from a “credible source” who is supposedly an investor at Bain Capital.
Reid won’t reveal the source’s name, of course, and Romney has denied the allegations. GOP bigwigs launched a counterattack on the Sunday morning talk shows, led by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus who called Reid a “dirty liar.”
Make my day, responded Reid, who doubled and tripled down on his wild accusations, even as the White House distanced itself from them.
Here’s Reid’s chief of staff David Krone in Politico:
What Harry Reid said is the fact of what he was told. To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a “liar” and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth.
Krone, like his boss, urged Romney to release more tax returns, which is what this brouhaha is all about.
Reid’s charges are pretty scurrilous, and I doubt any mere “investor” would have seen Romney’s tax returns. But he has a history of making wild accusations, as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post reported.
“Those close to the senator tell me that he’s delighted with the conflagration he sparked last week, and that he is determined to keep it going,” Milbank wrote.
And why shouldn’t he? Reid is a tough partisan, a former amateur boxer who was on the ropes in the 2010 election but prevailed through a nasty negative campaign against Sharron Angle, one of the worst candidates the Tea Party put up that year. Having lived to fight another day, Reid may be looking for payback and he has nothing to lose—a dangerous combination. The senator, who turns 73 in December, reportedly will not run for another term.
Conservatives charge Reid, who accused Republicans of “obstruction on steroids,” with being the biggest obstructionist of all in the Senate. Wrote Bill Wichterman in National Review Online in December 2010:
Senator Reid has blocked the minority from amending bills more than any Senate majority leader in history — and more times than the last four Senate majority leaders combined.
The majority leader also hasn’t allowed a vote on the Obama Administration’s budget for the past three years, presumably to keep Democratic senators from taking tough votes that may come back to haunt them in their election campaigns.
For me, the bottom line is that Harry Reid is a big contributor to the poisonous atmosphere in Washington in both his words and deeds. You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem, and Reid is clearly the latter—whether or not his claims about Romney’s taxes are true.