People have long noticed that Nevada?s senior senator talks more conservatively while home than he does inside the Beltway.
Harry Reid has now dropped all pretext. While on public radio and public television this past Friday, he admitted the objective of ObamaCare is eventually to nationalize health care ? also known as the public option.
During a discussion of the myriad adjustments, waivers and delays that have plagued the Affordable Care Act, a liberal newspaper columnist suggested to Reid that these problems would not exist had Congress simply passed a single-payer system and ended private health insurance entirely.
?Don?t think we didn?t have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system,? Reid responded.
Asked if the country will eventually work beyond private health insurance, Reid enthusiastically replied, ?Yes. Absolutely, yes.?
The senate majority leader hardly missed a beat as he segued into his thoughts on why electric utility companies should be controlled by the government regardless of cost.
When it was pointed out renewable energy generation costs much more than energy produced by coal- and natural gas-fired plants, Reid insisted, ?Each day that goes by solar is plummeting in cost.?
Pressed on the matter, Reid replied, ?These public utility agencies have to make sure that they look at more than the basic cost. How much do you think it?s cost the people who are up in Moapa Valley, sucking in coal dust for 50 years from the Reid Gardner plant? How much do you think this basin has been polluted with crap that comes from these power plants??
Then he insisted costs are competitive now, but contradicted himself by saying, ?You have a few incidents where they are higher, especially with natural gas, which is so cheap now. We have more natural gas than any country in the world, and that?s very inexpensive. So I don?t accept all your statistics.?
Meanwhile on pubic radio earlier in the day, Reid unleashed a scathing attack on what he calls tea party Republicans that included accusations of racism on the part of those reluctant to embrace the president?s agenda of centralized government command and control of virtually every aspect of the economy.
He repeated his usual comparison of modern tea party adherents to anarchists, saying tea party members have the same philosophy as the early anarchists.
?They do not believe in government. Anytime anything bad happens to government that?s a victory for them. And that?s what?s happened,? he claimed. ?We have absolute gridlock created by a group of people who represent few Americans, but it makes it extremely difficult to get things done.?
He went on to say his counterpart, Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader of the Republicans, said at the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama that he had one goal and that was to defeat Obama and make sure he wasn?t re-elected.
?It?s been obvious they are doing everything they can to make him fail. And I hope, I hope that it?s, and I say this seriously, I hope that they?re based on substance and not the fact that he?s an African-American,? Reid stammered.
This is from the man who once claimed to be awed by Obama?s gift for oratory and believed the country was ready for a black president, especially a ?light-skinned? African American ?with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.?
In response, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.,who is black, called Reid?s comments Friday ?offensive? and said, ?Instead of engaging in serious debate about the failed policies of this administration ? from the ever-increasing burdens created by the national health care reform plan to the tax and spend approach to economic recovery, along with countless others ? Democrats are once again trying to hide behind a smokescreen.?
To solidify his recurring theme of Washington knows best, Reid told the public radio host that one of his proudest accomplishments was killing efforts by President George W. Bush to allow some privatization of Social Security.
?If I?ve accomplished nothing else in my career, I accomplished the fact I stopped George Bush, others helped me, of course, but I was on the forefront of that. I was on the spear, the point of the spear, saying you will not privatize Social Security?, Reid boasted. ?And we were able to stop that. Also, listeners, Social Security is not about to go broke.?
Reid is home from Washington and ready to tell you what?s good for you, whether you like or not.
Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may share your views with him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Read additional musings on his blog at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.