Quips and outtakes from Harry Reid

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco today, and said he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean intend to ensure that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will be over by the end of next week.

Here are some odds and ends for which I didn’t have room in the story:

Asked whether his own “The Good Fight” or former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” should be the single must-buy, must-read political memoir of the year, Reid replied he’s donating all proceeds from his book to charity, but “Scott probably needs the money more.”

Asked who’s most to blame for the subprime mortgage loan crisis, Reid said it’s former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whom he called “the J. Edgar Hoover of the financial world: He did everything he could to get in good with the next president.” Greenspan must’ve known the subprime loans were a disaster in the making, Reid said, and “if he didn’t know, he should’ve known,” as the U.S. Treasury secretaries under the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations should’ve as well.

On gas prices, Reid said the United States doesn’t have the oil reserves to produce its way out of the crisis, nor can it remain so dependent on oil imported from hostile or potentially hostile “tyrannical” regimes. Reid said he favors granting an eight-year tax credit to spur venture capital investment in solar, wind and geothermal energy production; he said he’d like to see the vast tracts of Nevada desert once used to test nuclear weapons be carpeted with solar panels to generate electricity for the nation.

On healthcare, Reid said if we had Hillary Clinton’s healthcare plan — the one she pitched in 1993, while her husband was president — in place today, “there would be very few complaints.” Parts of that plan must be adopted into the next administration’s policy, he said, especially the ability of small business owners to pool their employees together so that they collectively can subscribe to better health-insurance plans.

“Congress should have pretty low (approval) ratings, because we have not produced things,” he said — but he quickly said he’s not willing to take much blame for that. Republicans have filibustered 77 times in this Congress so far, he noted. “They broke a two-year record in 10 months. They’re like Mark McGuire, they’re on steroids. I guess I shouldn’t say Barry Bonds while I’m in San Francisco.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.