Those events: the sequester, the automatic budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act agreed to last year; the expiration of the Bush tax cuts; the expiration of unemployment benefits, and the payroll tax cuts. In each of these, Democrats have the option of just not acting. Reid seems to be ready to do just that—nothing—unless the Republicans relent on taxes.
So it is really Senate Democrats who are next in line to wield the power of “no.” In November and December, they’ll be in position to block Republican-backed legislation to stop an automatic 10 percent sequester of Pentagon funds and to extend high-end tax breaks for the wealthy. [...]The bottom line, Reid reiterates, is that Republicans have to move on revenue increases. Reid seems to recognize that Boehner has painted himself into a corner, one that Grover Norquist has helped shove him into: “'We did it knowing the pain, and maybe the pain would cause Grover Norquist to wither away,' Reid said. 'But he hasn’t. He’s become more emboldened and threatening and they are running from him just as they always have.'”
“I am not going to back off the sequestration,” Reid said. “That’s the law we passed. We did it because it wouldn’t make things easy for us. It made it so we would have to do something. And if we didn’t, these cuts would kick in.”
“To now see the Republicans scrambling to do away with the cuts to defense, I will not accept that,” Reid said. “My people — in the state of Nevada and I think the country — have had enough of whacking all the programs. We’ve cut them to a bare bone, and defense is going to have to bear their share of the burden.”
The power of doing nothing is in Reid's hands. So is knowledge that he has very powerful political tool in this election year: keeping Republicans in the position of standing in the way of any movement on these issues because they have to protect the tax cuts for the wealthy.