Reid to put Senate GOP on the spot

REID TO PUT SENATE GOP ON THE SPOT…. We talked the other day about why it’d be a smart move for Senate Democrats to bring the House Republican budget to the floor for a vote. This afternoon, we learned that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Wednesday that he would host a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget as a means of forcing moderate GOP senators to weigh in on the legislation’s controversial proposals. He did not provide a specific date for when that vote will take place.

“There will be an opportunity in the Senate to vote on the Ryan budget to see if Republican senators like the Ryan budget as much as the House did,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters. “Without going into the Ryan budget we will see how much the Republicans like it here in the Senate.”

This is a plan with no downsides, at least for Democrats. The Senate majority caucus will be unified in opposition — even Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin won’t go along with a proposal that ends Medicare — and Republicans will be on the defensive.

Even the most far-right members realize that the House plan is unpopular. If Senate Republicans vote for it anyway, Dems can and will use it against them. If some in the Senate GOP balk — as Maine’s Susan Collins already has — Dems will use that to emphasize the “bipartisan” opposition to the House agenda and use it as leverage in budget talks.

It’s a classic wedge strategy, and if I were a betting man, I’d say it’s almost certain to work with Republicans like Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — incumbents seeking re-election next year in traditionally “blue” states — who’d have to be politically suicidal to put their careers on the line for a radical plan that’s going to fail anyway.

The question isn’t whether the move will force some Republicans to break ranks; the question is how many. I’d put the over/under at five.