McCaskill: Why don't we give Republicans the pipeline?

It’s not a bad question, especially since it’s become clear that at least a few Senate Democrats want to claim some credit for job creation. Unfortunately for Claire McCaskill, who has more need than most to build some moderate credibility with her constituents, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is more interesting in being “combative all the time,” and says she will press for a compromise that meets House Republicans somewhere in the middle:

Democratic Sen. McCaskill accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of using divisive rhetoric during the payroll tax cut extension debate raging in Congress this week.

“I think if I were going to critique Harry Reid this morning, I really wish we would stop with this ‘dead on arrival, not going to go there’ and begin to have language like, ‘we’re going to take a look at it and see if there’s anything that we can agree on here and over the next couple of days try to come to an agreement,” said McCaskill on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” Wednesday.

“That’s what’s really going to happen, and I don’t know why this place is so set on, you know, looking like we’re combative all the time,” she added.

That’s a significant challenge to Reid, who did indeed proclaim the House payroll-tax-cut extension bill “dead on arrival” due to the provision that requires immediate action on the Keystone XL pipeline.  The Obama administration wants to push that decision off until after the next election, which indicates that they want to kill it without paying a political price.  Republicans want to get the benefit of the project’s job creation — ironically, which will benefit union pipefitters most, in all likelihood — and force Obama to assume political responsibility for the decision sooner rather than later or not at all.

McCaskill still blasted the GOP for including the provision in the bill, but said she’d be “gosh darn if I think it’s a good idea to raise taxes on people working as hard as they know how right now.”  In other words, Republicans put Senate moderates like McCaskill and Ben Nelson over a barrel, and they’re going to have to give the GOP something in order to produce an extension of a payroll tax holiday that was a bad idea when it was first implemented and hasn’t done anything to boost the economy anyway, but now it will look like a tax hike if it goes away.  The Senate, which hasn’t produced a budget on its own in almost 1000 days now, couldn’t have botched policy any worse than this.  McCaskill’s basically looking for a way out.