As President Barack Obama begins a second term, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered candid observations on the president's leadership style, noting that Obama was willing to risk his presidency to pass health care reform.
During an interview with KSNV, an NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, Reid reflected on Obama's struggle to pass the Affordable Care Act, one of the signature accomplishments of his first term.
"That thing was dead a few times," Reid said of the proposal, which sparked controversy from the moment it was introduced in 2009. The president said, "Harry, we've got to get this done. If I lose the presidency, if I'm not reelected and I get this done, that's okay with me," Reid said.
Obama's commitment to health care reform, despite the political risk, was based on his belief that the U.S. shouldn't remain the only industrialized nation without a health care plan for its people, Reid added.
But Obama's early focus on comprehensive reforms was not without its consequences. Reid conceded that in the pursuit of a wide array of issues, the Democratic majority in Congress failed to effectively herald its accomplishments.
"We were so overwhelmed and busy trying to do things that we didn't do a good job touting what we had done," Reid said.
Now, Obama must contend with a second consecutive House Republican majority as he seeks to craft his legacy in a second term. Reid made it clear that Obama considers debt a serious issue, but accused Tea Party Republicans of damaging legislative productivity.
Reid said Obama's aversion to repeated showdowns in Washington provides insight into how he might legislate over the next four years.
"He doesn't like confrontation," Reid said. "He does everything he can to avoid it. But you push him so far and he won't be pushed any more than that.
"There's just a limit to what he can put up with," Reid added.
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