"Damned if I know, Harry. I'm as horrified as you!"
"Not just me. The American public, too."
Greg Sargent gets the full text of a letter sent from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to House Speaker John Boehner—and it's actually quite good:
Dear Speaker Boehner,
Our respective chambers have been seeking for weeks to negotiate a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut for middle-class families, as well as unemployment benefits and Medicare payments for physicians.
You and I agree that this should be our goal. But as these weeks have made clear, there remain differences between our parties over how to fund and implement these programs that will take longer then a few days to reconcile.
Recognizing this reality, eighty-nine Republican and Democratic senators came together to agree to a short-term extension of these programs. As you requested when we met last Wednesday, Senator Mcconnell and I worked together to find this common ground.
Once the House of Representatives acts on this immediate extension, we will be able to sit down and complete negotiations on a longer extension. But because we have a responsibility to assure middle-class families that their taxes will not go up while we work out our differences, we must pass this immediate extension first.
As the Senate vote made clear, there is no reason for this to be a partisan issue. I am fully confident that we can work out our differences and find common ground on a year-long extension. But in the meantime, families should not have to worry that they will wake up to a tax increase on January 1, 2012.
To provide middle-class families the certainty they deserve, I urge you to reconvene the House to act on the Senate’s bipartisan compromise as soon as possible.
Sincerely, Senator Harry Reid
This is a patient and thorough explanation of why the only course of action available to John Boehner—if he wants to extend the payroll tax cut—is to pass the Senate's bipartisan deal through the House. It underscores the firm resolve of Reid's position. And by reminding Boehner that Reid and McConnell worked out the deal at Boehner's request, it's also a bit of a fuck you. Finally, a letter that is a pleasure to read.