"Bayh: My Group Of Blue Dogs ‘Literally Has No Agenda’ Other Than Blocking Obama’s"
Yesterday, MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change, and several other progressive groups began running ads urging “moderate” Democratic members of Congress to “get on board with the president’s budget.” The ads are, in part, a response to Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and 14 of his Democratic colleagues who are creating what they call a “moderate coalition that will meet regularly to shape public policy.” Bayh responded to the new ads late yesterday, telling Politico that his group of “moderates” should not be targeted because they have “no agenda”:
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is also unhappy with the friendly fire. Bayh…found himself targeted by an ad accusing him of “standing in the way of President Obama’s reforms.” “We literally have no agenda,” Bayh shot back. “How can they be threatened by a group that has taken no policy positions?”
Bayh’s claim that his group has no agenda is hard to believe. Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal explained yesterday, the group’s “stated goal is to…protect business interests.” Even before the group was officially formed, their efforts dampened a number of progressive policy proposals and they clearly have aspirations to expand their portfolio:
– Shrinking Economic Recovery: The group’s first significant “success” was “paring down the more than $900 billion economic stimulus bill to $787 billion,” reducing the government’s ability to spur economic recovery quickly. [Roll Call, 3/12/2009]
– Preserving The Bush Tax Cuts: Regarding Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, Bayh said, “I do think that before we raise revenue, we first should look to see if there are ways we can cut back on spending.” [Politico, 3/3/2009]
– Delaying Cap-and-Trade: Bayh coaltion member, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), explained that the group might “push for a more lenient phase-in period for a cap-and-trade system and revenue-raising offsets to pay for expensive mandates.” [CQ Politics, 3/9/2009]
– Weakening Bankruptcy Protection: Centrist Democrats “forced changes to a House bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, ensuring that the legislation better reflected the concerns of the financial-services industry.” [WSJ, 3/25/09]
If Bayh is to be believed and his new group of moderates “literally have no agenda,” then what exactly are they doing? As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained last night, it appears that Bayh and his colleagues have found at least one niche to fill by helping Republicans obstruct the President’s agenda and deny voters the policies they endorsed last November:
Anyone voting against a Democratic agenda voted Republican. Those votes produced a very small Republican minority in Congress. A small minority that now has way more power than they otherwise would because of conservative Democrats deciding to give Republicans as much power as they can.