A Mandate For The Middle?

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.

Tags: Barack Obama, Claire McCaskill, Evan Bayh (all tags)



guess what?

moderate and sensible Dems who think this spending is reckless, amoral and insane applaud those like Warner and Bayh who wish to stop this madness .

by Zapata 2009-03-20 05:09PM | 0 recs
Re: guess what?

If you aren't for health care reform, then wy are you a democrat?

If health care reform is blocked by democrats again, like it was 15 years ago, I'm staying home in 2010 and so area a lot of other people.

It is the NUMBER 1 priority right now, period.  If something substantial doesn't pass, the dems just signed their electoral death warrants...  millions of democrats will stay home in 2010.

by LordMike 2009-03-20 05:25PM | 0 recs
im 100% for 100% heath care

this group is not just focused on hc reform.

persoally, like Krugman, I think Os is beholden to WS and the wealthy.

by Zapata 2009-03-20 06:01PM | 0 recs
With the deficit forecasts

I don't even thnk healthcare is possible in the next two years.

by DTOzone 2009-03-21 10:56AM | 0 recs
"reckless, amoral and insane"

The phrase used by a putative Clinton supporter to describe spending on health care reform - if Obama is the one proposing it.

I don't understand PUMAs.  When Clinton said, "Were you in this campaign just for me?"  the answer was, clearly, yes.

by Drew 2009-03-20 05:39PM | 0 recs

this group is not just focused on hc reform.

personally I abhor the bail outs and the reckless (non hc) spending

by Zapata 2009-03-20 05:55PM | 0 recs
Read the post.

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.

They want to use the filibuster to stop health care reform.  They want to use the filibuster to stop climate change legislation.

And you want to help them.  I'm sure Hillary would be proud.

by Drew 2009-03-20 06:27PM | 0 recs
thats opinion

not facts

by Zapata 2009-03-20 06:51PM | 0 recs
It's a fact

That Bayh et. al. want to make it more difficult for health care reform and climate change legislation to pass the Senate.  Given a choice between a 50 vote requirement and a 60 vote requirement, they choose the latter.

You can believe whatever you want, but in fact, that renders it more difficult to pass health care reform.

by Drew 2009-03-20 07:04PM | 0 recs
obama is gonna do jack shit

on health care

by Zapata 2009-03-22 07:10PM | 0 recs
id give my left nut

if Itd make Biden replace Obama.

this is not about Hillary.


by Zapata 2009-03-20 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: guess what?

What about obama's ideas is reckless? I find it interesting that when the only mistake Obama is making is related to the AIG fiasco and Geithner, these moderate DEms are trying to kill ideas that never had a chance with other Presidents. They had their chance to dominate the party. Why don't they let others try to fix what Bayh and others could not achieve in the past?

Compare Bayh's record on issues with Feingold. The country would have spent less money in the last 8 years and it would have been more productive if we followed a guy like Feingold. That is all the proof I need to say that fiscal responsibility is just a cop out to defeat ideas they do not like.

I support school choice and death penalty. But I have been very anti-Iraq war from the beginning. My idea of the middle is different from McCaskill's or someone else's. It is idiotic to create an ideology called "MODERATE". Moderate means different things based on the issues.

by Pravin 2009-03-20 06:40PM | 0 recs
and Feingold opposed

the banking bailouts.

politics and bedfellows and such...

by Zapata 2009-03-20 06:54PM | 0 recs
"Silly stuff"

I like Claire McCaskill. She's well to my right, and I knew that when I contributed to her campaign, but she's smart and seems tough and principled and is one of the best of elected Dems at TeeVee.

But when she twittered during the budget negotiations that she and her co-conspirators had gotten rid of a lot of the "silly stuff", she pissed me. The flip and dismissive reference to cutting an (IMHO) already too-small stimulus (including a personal priority of mine, the green vehicles for gov't use) still gnaws at me. Because we see, once again, a potentially potent Dem buying into the center-right Broderist rhetoric of the Beltway instead of taking a stand and making the case for something that could benefit the country, and/or prevent the country from going down the wrong path... we've seen that movie before. Too many damn times.

(And I did let my Bayhite Senators know that at least one of their constituents in paying attention, and is not happy).

by BlueinColorado 2009-03-20 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

Fact is if you read the report from the CBO today, you would realize that we cannot afford the reform that the  President is pushing at this time. The CBO and others have stated that the current budget over the next 10 year projection is unsustainable. Bayh and the others realize the jeaporday here. Blind partisans do not. Just becuase you want something doesnt make it right. Fact is our priority needs to be fixing the financial and housing situation first. Everything else is irrelevant right now.

by adb67 2009-03-20 06:00PM | 0 recs
blind sycophants do not.

by Zapata 2009-03-20 06:02PM | 0 recs

Republican View
by adb67, Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 10:59:17 PM EST

I am a republican....always voted republican.....bu

by BlueinColorado 2009-03-20 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Context

Whats your point copying snd psdting from my profile? Hillary Clinton was once a republican supporter back in her early days...does this mean her ideas, opinions dont matter. This is what I love about being who sre blinded by party, if you have ever disagreed with them your opinion is irrelevant. Whats that about being inclusive.

The fact is the budget is unsustainable. As for healthcare, we should start by reducing costs through the efficient use of information technology to reduce administrative costs and make delivery of information for efficient. Study after study shows the ssavings to be in the billions each year. Secondly, improvement of healthcare education at the lowes levels so that kids learn the benefits of nutrition and excercise at early ages and carry it through.

This also goes to personal responsibility. Obesity which is largely preventable is responsible for numerous diseases and cost the economy billions in costs. How bout people take responsibility for their own health? Lets look to streamline costs before we start pumping in money. Lets demand responsibility fromn everyone, including physicians not to perform needless and expensive tests when unnecessary.

As for cap and trade.....I wont event get into the science of global warming...thats for another day...

by adb67 2009-03-21 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Context

Like I said, it's context.

According to you, you voted for George W Bush in 2000, which says something about your judgment in general, for his tax cuts, which says something about your judgment of fiscal issues, and in 2004 you voted for him again, for his war, his lies, his incompetence, torture, the destruction of the balance of powers within our government, which says something about your grasp of reality, respect for and understanding of the Constitution, and a few other things I won't mention in the interest of civility.

I'm not "blinded by party". I haven't voted for a Republican since 1990, but I never (strongly) identified myself a Democrat until the late 90s, when the Republican party went collectively insane (and they've steadily deteriorated since then). I'm merely considering your opinions in light of your record as a judge of people and politics as you yourself present it. It's not impressive.

I'm glad the scales are finally falling from your eyes, but you're hardly someone whose opinion I'm going to give a lot of weight.

As for your views on global warming.... see above.

by BlueinColorado 2009-03-21 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Context

Firstly, the tax cuts enacted during Bush's first term were correct snd justified. We can have an economic debate if you like but the fact is, tax cuts combined with responsible spending spending is what we need. As for my vote in 2000, I voted for Bush and stand by it. Al Gore is, was and will always be a phony.

As for 2004, I never said nor did I vote for GW. Saying I voted republican was a general statement. I have int he past voted for democrats as I saw fit. 2004 and 2008 were two cases where I voted for s democratic candidate for President. So before you white wash me with your broadbrush perhaps you should understand the facts.

As for questions about my understanding of the constitution, let me ask you. Do you support the tax congress passed with the intent on punishing AIG?

by adb67 2009-03-21 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Context

I am a republican....always voted republican....

Saying I voted republican was a general statement. I have int he past voted for democrats as I saw fit. 2004 and 2008 were two cases where I voted for s democratic candidate for President. So before you white wash me with your broadbrush perhaps you should understand the facts.

Okay. "always" is indeed a rather "broad brush". I apologize for taking you at your word. You decide which facts you want to use, and we'll go with those from here on in.

Or not.

But thanks for this last post which gives even further insight into your.... interesting worldview.


by BlueinColorado 2009-03-22 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Context

Get a life......

by adb67 2009-03-23 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

SO why didn't Bayh vigorously oppose funding a useless war if budget is such a high priority for him? why does a so called democrat put fiscal responsbility at the top only when it comes to passing a Democratic President's ideas?

What credibility does Bayh have to adopt a tone that he and his fellow so called moderates have been more responsible with our money in the last eight years? Last time I checked, liberals tended to oppose wasteful spending in Iraq. Do you know how much money got wasted in the reconstruction of IRaq with a lot of unqualified cronies making easy money? Where was Bayh then?

Money spent for Obama's ideas will remain in the country. When infrastructure gets created through so called pork, that is the same as wealth being created.

by Pravin 2009-03-20 06:34PM | 0 recs
very very, very few

dollars are going to our infrastructure.

very very, very few

by Zapata 2009-03-20 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: very very, very few

And which side of the party do you think caved in the most on reducing those dollars?

by Pravin 2009-03-20 08:45PM | 0 recs
Which reform?

Health care?  I'd like to know how it is in the best interest of the nation for Obama to ignore the rising cost of health care.

Cap and trade?  Again, I'd like to know how it is in the best interest of the nation for Obama to ignore the cost of climate change.

As for Bayh, he sees nothing but himself on television.  He doesn't care about the fiscal future of the nation: if he did, he wouldn't be so willing to ignore the danger posed by health care costs and climate change.  For that matter, if he did, he wouldn't support the extension of Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

by Drew 2009-03-20 06:43PM | 0 recs

Seriously, I have respect for independent opinions. And sometimes, when ideology veers too much one way, a correction MAY be needed based on the mistakes made.

But in the current era, how exactly can self proclaimed moderates claim to be disenfranchised enough to come up with this ridiculous group? We had 8 years of Bush. The so called left side of the spectrum's needs have been underserved for 8 years and weren't exactly at top of the agenda in Clinton's tenure. So where is this reactionary attitude coming from?

Obama has bent over backwards to accomodate self proclaimed moderates. What more do they want?

AND HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. People who tend to be non ideological are usually those who like to reward a meritocracy. The conservative ideas these people want to champion have proven to be failures. These democrats were wrong on Iraq. They were asleep during the deregulation era. They were asleep during consolidation of corporations into unwieldly huge entities.

WHAT IS THEIR TRACK RECORD to be show such audacity?  Why don't they compare their actions with a liberal like  Feingold's? Who has been more on the mark in the last 8 years? I thought moderates were more concerned about RESULTS and not ideology. But when they make MODERATION an ideology instead of a pragmatic means to an end, they are strarting their own niche group.

by Pravin 2009-03-20 06:29PM | 0 recs
Fiscal Responsibility

Look, I have been one of the few who actually said government should not increase taxes until it proves it can spend current money wisely. But I find it rich that these so called moderates target social projects only because of ideology and not because they do a cost benefit analysis on the projects. In the process, they show a rigid ideology unbecoming of someone aspiring to be a moderate.

A lot of Obama's social programs may not have tangible wealth created to show on a spreadsheet. But one needs to develop human assets to enable them to develop material assets in the future. if you forgo reforms just because you have a knee jerk reaction against liberal programs, then you are fiscally costing the country down the road when these human assets end up with dysfunctional lives.

You know what burns me up. They have given other presidents the courtesy of testing their ideas. A lot of them have failed. Yet they do not extend Obama the same courtesy to try out his ideas despite his watering down of the radicalism of such ideas. The same President who has brought glory back to the Democratic party. Do they not owe Obama the courtesy of cooperation ? It won't stop them from making their suggestions to follow a different path, but they need to work with the President once they have made their case. It doesn't prevent them from shutting up in case they see something really wrong that has been tried out in the past. But they have nothing in their track record to be such intra party obstructionists.

by Pravin 2009-03-20 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

Getting health care passed is important right now.  Cap and trade is not.

If this cantrist caucus can get spending under control, while allowing health care reform to pass, then the Democrats will do well.  But if health care reform is blocked in the name of cutting spending, then a lot of Democrats will stay home.

Health care reform is the second stimulus, it's that important.  And I mean one with a public component.

by esconded 2009-03-20 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

I will say this:  ANYONE, anyone, who says that we cannot "afford" to reform the health care system DOES NOT KNOW what they are talking about, does not understand how health care is funded right now, and DOES NOT KNOW how much is being paid in right now.  Really.  You are STUPID, as in you have been given the fact or the ability to get the facts, but you deny them because you do not like them.

I looked at my health care coverage and it is 40% of my pre-tax paycheck.  I have good coverage, but that is a 40% health care tax, just not doen by the govt.  

I really wish all these "not afford" people would be honest and just say "WE have totally bought Regan's line that govt. is ALWAYS the problem".  We WANT corporations to get rich off of us and grossly mis-manage the money we give them just because we don't like the word socialism."

As for the whole "live on your feet than die on your knees" comment...I guess you just don't see who you are on your knees to, cause I noticed you ain't dead.

by Hammer1001 2009-03-20 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

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.

She's a moron if she believes the above. Splitting things down the middle is a recipe for disaster.

by Charles Lemos 2009-03-20 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

Why do I get the feeling that if Obama ended up being a conservative Democrat, then these so called moderates would not feel compelled to start this organization to act as a check on conservatism?

Also, I do not buy the excuse that these reps are from red states and they need to cater to their constituents. The fix would not be to be opposing Obama's proposals, but to find a way to sell obama's ideas and frame them in a way that their constituents understand how those proposals will work to their benefit indirectly in the long term.

I never see moderate DEmocrats ever discuss how to find a way to sell ideas to the public. It's always "we can't get people to buy this because they are used to the conventional DC wisdom framing of the issue", so let's cave in.

by Pravin 2009-03-21 09:21AM | 0 recs
by Michael Bersin 2009-03-21 04:16AM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

does anyone know all eight senators that signed that letter?

by Johannes 2009-03-21 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: A Mandate For The Middle?

Think of the Republicans like the posturing dictator of a middle eastern country (saber rattlers).  Think of the Conservadems as the diplomatic corps of the Democratic party. (extending hand to those who will unclench fist)

The Republicans have been hunkering down in their bunkers and refusing to cooperate to get legislation passed.  They have offered nothing but obstructionism.  

The members of the Conservadems do not intend to obstruct the passage of Obama's legislation and budgets.  Their job is to accept any positive suggestions, ideas or alternatives coming from the conservatives and present them for consideration.  The President encouraged formation of this group.

I talked about this with Senator Bennett's assistant yesterday and she confirmed they will not obstruct the passage of Obama's agenda(s).  Both of CO's Senators are members and I told her many of us were concerned.

President Obama is very savvy when it comes to politics.  We should trust him.

by GFORD 2009-03-21 10:35AM | 0 recs


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