If Democrats still hope to brand Republicans in Congress as the stubborn cause of gridlock, they must address a major headache. This problem also threatens the party's courtship of anti-special-interest populists. It undermines their claim to be champions of the poor.
The Democratic Party has a Harry Reid problem.
The Senate minority leader is threatening to block or otherwise undo a bipartisan, long-term plan to finance health care for older Americans, pay doctors who accept Medicare, and extend vital health care programs for children and the poor.
Respected congressional correspondent David Rogers of Politico called the plan "a major breakthrough," and two top reporters at The New York Times declared the package "as politically remarkable as it is substantive."
What is remarkable is Reid's chutzpah. At a time when most voters are demanding bipartisan results from a Congress with record-low favorability, when President Obama barely lets a day pass without raising legitimate concerns over GOP obstruction, Reid stands ready to kill a deal between House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
"It is a role in which Mr. Reid is becoming increasingly comfortable as he exploits his leverage in the minority to thwart his political opponents, even if that means an unusual split with Ms. Pelosi," Jennifer Steinhauer and Robert Pear wrote for The Times.