A Mandate For The Middle?
by Todd Beeton, Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 04:54:35 PM EDT
On Wednesday, desmoinesdem posted about Evan Bayh's moderate Senate working group and asked "Does it matter?" In and of itself, I think the formation of the group is rather benign and could, as desmoinesdem suggests, even serve as cover for redstate Dems, but the recent activity of a subset of that group is fulfilling our worst fears:
A bloc of Senate Democratic moderates is quietly maneuvering to keep open the option of vetoing two of President Barack Obama's most ambitious agenda items this year -- climate change and health care reform.
Eight Democrats who want to water down new climate change legislation have already joined with Republicans and signed a letter opposing any attempt to use fast-track budget rules to prevent filibusters. Many of the same Democrats also oppose using those budget rules to prevent filibusters of health care legislation.
If you saw Sen. Mark Begich -- who is in Bayh's 15-member working group but did not sign the letter -- on Rachel Maddow last night, you know some of these moderates are on the defensive now. Case in point: Sen. Claire McCaskill over at her Tumblr blog:
I worked hard to help elect President Obama. I believe he will be a terrific President because he understands that change means listening and compromise, not political posturing. The way forward is almost always up the middle. I look forward to helping the President find that way forward on health care, energy, and our struggling economy. The left and the right shouting at each other hasn't gotten much done. Red vs Blue hasn't been very successful either.
I always try to be an independent voice for Missouri. I evaluate every issue, not as a party vote, but as a policy vote. There is nothing about the group of moderate Democrats that undermines President Obama. Just the opposite, I believe we can help bring people together around good policy and get away from some of the nasty partisan food fights that have blocked real progress for so long.
Senator McCaskill doesn't have to prove her pro-Obama bona fides to me but she needs to realize that as long as she's associating with the Bayh, Landrieu, Lincoln crowd she will be tainted by that association. These are Senators who insist on joining with Republicans to proudly and publicly statie their intention to obstruct President Obama's agenda by refusing to allow major...and moderate...reforms such as Obama's health care and climate plans, to pass on simple majority vote -- ya know, what Barack Obama and Democrats got in November. Barack Obama spent more than a year running on his agenda and this so-called "center-right" country of ours signed off on it by overwhelmingly electing him president and adding to Democratic majorities to enable him to enact that agenda. The idea that moving President Obama's agenda to the right is somehow moving to the middle is ridiculous; empowering the minority is not "working from the middle" it's simply moving toward an extremist position for the sake of compromise for its own sake.
Senator McCaskill, I know we're on the same team here, I just hope you'll exercise some of that independence and resist the worst instincts of some of your fellow moderates rather than helping to enable the watering down of an agenda already ratified by "the middle" last November.