A week ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for the first time, broached a sensitive subject, suggesting his Republican colleagues may be trying to sabotage the economy on purpose for political gain. “Republicans think that if the economy improves, it might help President Obama,” he said. “So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.”

Seven days later, the other side of the aisle is still grumbling about it.

The accusations from the blunt Nevada Democrat have irritated Republicans, and complicated Reid’s effort to hold a bipartisan meeting with senators in the near future.

In the Senate, where lawmakers routinely address their adversaries as “my friend,” Reid’s attack on GOP motives is a jarring break from traditional decorum.

Well, it couldn’t have been that jarring. For one thing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said the same thing, even more explicitly, many times, as have a wide variety of prominent pundits and political observers. For another, it took a week for The Hill to even mention it.

To his credit, Reid did not walk back the comments, and an aide told The Hill, “Sen. Reid speaks his mind.” Indeed, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin backed Reid up, asking, “Since the Republicans are not offering any jobs plan with any credibility to it, you have to say to them: ‘Do you really care?’ ”

The article includes no quotes or even paraphrases from any Republican senators, probably because they still hope to avoid a larger debate over whether or not the GOP is actively involved in a campaign to deliberately undermine the economy.

But if Senate Republicans are going to grumble behind the scenes about Reid hurting their feelings, they should be prepared to address the underlying issues. Why have Republicans rejected every popular jobs proposal with bipartisan ideas? Why did the GOP unveil an alternative jobs plan that, according to independent analyses, wouldn’t create jobs?

Given recent events — the debt-ceiling scandal, the GOP-driven downgrade, the Republican rejection of any efforts to boost the economy, the GOP leadership’s letter to Bernanke pleading with him to let the economy suffer, the repeated threats of government shutdowns, the death of the American Jobs Act, Republican opposition to every worthwhile component within the White House’s jobs bill — is it really that surprising that the sabotage question would come up from time to time?

I can understand why the subject matter would offend GOP officials. But if they want to put these suspicions about their motives to rest, perhaps Republicans could explain their recklessness and disregard for the nation’s interests.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.