Reid questions Boehner’s willingness to work in good faith

REID QUESTIONS BOEHNER’S WILLINGNESS TO WORK IN GOOD FAITH…. Honestly, can anyone blame him for feeling frustrated?

Asked at a Capitol press conference this afternoon if he’s starting to doubt whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wants to avoid a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) didn’t mince words.

“Yes, I am,” he said.

You can look at that sentiment a couple of ways. Ironically, Reid’s statement gives Boehner credibility with his base, which makes it easier for him to strike a deal. But it’s also about passing the buck to the other party, as the clock ticks toward a government shutdown.

“They’ve made the decision to shut down the government because they want to make it harder, for example for a woman to get a cancer screening,” Reid told reporters. “We’re talking about issues relating to health of women. That’s one issue that’s held things up. The other issue is their wanting to change the air we breathe.”

That reminds me of a question I’ve pondering this week. Can anyone name anything that Boehner has said publicly he’s willing to compromise on? That’s not a rhetorical question.

After several weeks of talks, I’ve heard President Obama and other Democratic leaders offer all kinds of concessions and express an eagerness to negotiate that borders on desperation. Has the House Speaker pointed to anything — literally, anything — that he considers negotiable from a Republican perspective?

It’s tempting to think Boehner’s shown some willingness to move away from the $61 billion in cuts, but even on this, the Speaker hasn’t officially said he’s willing to concede anything here, only that he’s “fighting for the largest spending cuts possible.” That’s not much of a concession.

I mention this, of course, because when it comes to assigning blame after tomorrow night, intellectually serious people should ask themselves, honestly, which party’s leaders were open to compromise, working in good faith to reach a pragmatic solution, and which party’s leaders weren’t.

Reid has been at the negotiating table every step of the way, and while he wants to believe Boehner sincerely wants a deal, he’s simply not sure. At this point, the doubts hardly seem unreasonable.