Bob Geiger from Nevada scooped the world press with a 30-minute interview with incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
Wonderful to see that sane government is to be restored, that finally the adults will be in charge, and that the multitude of impeachable offenses committed by this maladministration will be exposed to the light of day.
Geiger: With a Democratic House and Senate and the prospect of a Democratic president in 2008, what’s your gut feeling on how long it will take to repair the Republican damage that’s been done to our global reputation? Just how long do you think it will take to repair the damage that’s been done to America’s reputation in the last six years?
Reid: It’s going to take generations. It’s going to take generations. I talked to former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin in my office here just a day or two ago and he’s traveled the world recently and he just shakes his head at the difference from when he was Secretary of Treasury and how we are now viewed in many parts of the world. It’s a shame. And it’s going to take generations to overcome that.
Geiger: A lot of good Democratic initiatives were shot down by the GOP majority in the 109th Congress — and there were some good bills like Debbie Stabenow’s work with first responder initiatives and Ted Kennedy with the minimum wage — in addition to the minimum wage, what would be some things that you can see coming back rapidly to be reconsidered?
Reid: Well, we have to do something about energy independence. Our country is in big trouble — we use 21 million barrels of oil every day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. We import more than 60 percent of that. We need energy independence and all this administration has done is throw big wet sops to the oil industry. This is the most oil-friendly administration in the history of our country.
We also have to recognize health care — we’ve got to do something about health care. Two subsets of that, one is stem cell research, which is giving hope to millions. Second would be to recognize that we must do something to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices for drugs for senior citizens. The way it is now, it’s not a fair playing field where the private sector has an advantage over Medicare and that’s not the way it should be.
Geiger: How about the Real Security Act of 2006? Will that come back to the floor?
Reid: I think it’s extremely important that progress is being made, but we need to change direction in Iraq — that’s something the American people spoke about on November 7. But also, we have to make sure that we’re safe here at home. Port security, chemical plant security, nuclear power plants need to be secure, our water, our sewer systems, our airplanes. If someone is sitting next to me on an airplane and I’m flying to Las Vegas, I feel pretty comfortable about that person sitting next to me. But I don’t know what’s in that cargo hold, so there’s a lot more that needs to be done.
Geiger: I know that Senator Boxer has introduced legislation that would require blast-proof containers on commercial airliners…
Reid: Yes, she’s done a number of things. She also wants to make sure that these airplanes have the ability to find out if someone is firing a missile at them, which is not farfetched any more.
Geiger: How frustrating was it for you when you continued to see the corporate media, the mainstream media, pay no attention to the Real Security Act to the extent that when I’m watching television, and I’m watching the pundits continuing to mimic Republican spin that the Democrats "have no plan" for security and there’s 528 pages of legislation that was shot down by the Republicans.
Reid: We did have a plan and the press, a lot of it, ignored our plan. But, that’s what’s in the Iraq Study Group report. Our plan, which we offered as legislation on the floor, the Reid-Levin amendment is basically what the Iraq Study Group did. Our plans for energy independence, for helping kids get through school — not because of how much money their parents have, but because they’re smart enough to be educated — that was part of what we wanted to do.
Retirement security, so that people have more security in their retirement than they do now because pensions are being obliterated, social security is being attacked… So it certainly is concerning that we weren’t able to get our message out as much as people said we didn’t, but I think we did more than we were given credit for as indicated by elections on November 7.