Associated Press
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks before awarding the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation to recipients at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Washington.

I am a regular reader of the Desert News but generally it takes considerable time for it to get to me in the mail. I have now read your Dec. 1 editorial, which attacked President Barack Obama and suggested that our budget problems could have been solved if only he had been more aggressive in proposing deep cuts to entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid ("Plodding to the cliff," Dec. 1).

In my view, your editorial's criticism of President Obama was unfair when published. But if there ever was any doubt about the president's commitment to fiscal discipline, such doubt should have since been put to rest. In recent weeks, the president went the extra mile and proved his willingness to make some very hard decisions in order to achieve a bipartisan "Grand Bargain" on the budget.

Unfortunately, just as their positions seemed close to converging, House Speaker John Boehner walked away from the negotiating table. House Republicans clearly were not ready for the hard choices needed to achieve a broad deficit reduction agreement. As a result, we ended up with a much smaller stop-gap bill that prevented major tax increases on the middle class while allowing taxes to return to Clinton-era levels for the very wealthy. This will help prevent an economic recession, and will reduce the deficit relative to a continuation of previous policies. But it's clear we need to do much more.

President Obama and congressional Democrats remain eager to work with Republicans to strengthen the economy and reduce the deficit. We only hope that they are willing to engage in a serious way, abandon ideological extremism and make the hard compromises needed.

Harry Reid, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate

Searchlight, Nev.