I really, really hope the Washington Post is right about this:
… With a low-key style that contrasts with some of the Senate’s camera hogs, Murray may be the most powerful senator a whole lot of people have never heard of outside of the two Washingtons where she lives and works.
As chair of her party’s Senate campaign arm, the architect of surprising Democratic gains and the incoming chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, Murray now occupies a place of special influence in the Senate.
And so what Murray has to say about the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January, may be of particular importance. In a town consumed by talk of the apocalyptic consequences of failing to resolve the budgeting crisis, Murray has been arguing that missing the deadline for a deal — going over the cliff — could actually make getting a deal easier….
Murray, 62, who holds the Senate’s No. 4 position, has repeatedly been handed jobs no one else wanted by Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)…
Starting with a speech at the Brookings Institution in July and continuing in a series of interviews last week, Murray, in her typically non-bombastic fashion, has argued that Democrats shouldn’t take a bad deal in December when their political leverage will only increase in the new year.
That’s because next month, tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush will expire for everybody. Murray reasons that might make it easier to get Republicans to agree to reinstate the cuts only for the middle class and let the nation’s wealthiest 2 percent pay more toward the reducing the debt, as Democrats desire…
Her perspective is born in part from the last tough task Reid handed her, chairing last year’s bipartisan “supercommittee,” a 12-member panel that tried, but ultimately failed, to come up with a major deficit reduction package acceptable to both parties.
Murray spent long hours behind closed doors with House and Senate Republicans and emerged convinced the GOP was offering only damaging proposals to cut health, education and environmental programs without agreeing to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes….
The article also credits Murray with “nix[ing] the idea of exposing veterans benefits to automatic domestic and military spending cuts” and “counsel[ing] Democrats in April 2011 to reject a last-minute demand by House Republicans to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood in a spending bill designed to avoid a government shutdown.” Even if some part of this is political Kabuki (Reid to the Repubs: Don’t make me call Murray in, you guys know you don’t want to mess with that lady!) it’s encouraging to believe that the Democrats are negotiating like they control the Oval Office and the Senate, and not from a pre-emptive crouch.