Reid seems to understand that it's up to him to prevent massive layoffs, cuts to food safety inspections, and other programs upon which millions of Americans rely. He also appears to know that public opinion is on his side. Nearly half of Americans continue to say that the economy and jobs are their top concern, while just 7 percent say the same of the federal deficit. Further, a recent poll shows that most Americans disagree with many of the cuts Boehner and his tea party-fueled majority are pushing. And yes, Reid happens to be backed up by that Democrat in the White House who holds a veto pen. And we know what happened the last time a Democratic president faced down irresponsible GOP budget-cutters: he was re-elected in a landslide.
So Boehner may be listening too much to his tea party friends, and flying headlong into a political buzzsaw in the process. Perhaps he counted on Harry Reid to tremble and fold. So far, though, Reid has shown nothing but spine, and the new Republican speaker could find himself in for a world of political hurt. Boehner would do well to understand this, and get himself to the bargaining table quickly.