In the last few days, the Economic Freedom Alliance (EFA) has created a website and placed billboards in Indiana pressuring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act. On its website, EFA claims that the Employee Free Choice Act will “cost the U.S. economy 600,000 jobs in 2010,” which is a statistic taken from a discredited study by business sponsored scholar Anne Layne-Farrar. But EFA’s disclosure and expenditure form provides some insight into why it’s willing to employ falsehoods. After all, the EFA has paid $100,000 in consulting fees to Karl Rove and Co. in 2009.
Stories tagged with “Evan Bayh”
Self-described moderate Democrats aren’t always the blogosphere’s favorite kind of Senator, but this set of ideas laid out in a new letter from Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) and nine of his colleagues (Sens Carper, Lincoln, Landrieu, Bennet, Lieberman, Nelson, McCaskill, Warner, and Kohl) in the moderate Dems working group are important and correct:
Saying that “now is the time to explore new paths and reject stale thinking,” Bayh commended President Obama for his focus on teacher quality and noted a recent report by McKinsey and Company that highlights the achievement gaps that persist among various economic, regional and racial backgrounds in the United States and the gaps between American students and their peers in other industrialized nations. Based on this report, the senators noted that “had the United States closed the gap in education achievement with better-performing nations like Finland, Iceland, and Poland, our GDP could have been up to $2.3 trillion higher last year.”
In the letter, Bayh expressed support for new pay-for-performance teacher incentives and expansions of effective public charter schools. He also endorsed the Obama administration’s desire to extend student learning time to stay globally competitive and called for investments in state-of-the-art data systems so school systems can track student performance across grades, schools, towns and teachers.
There’s a lot packed into there, but fortunately I wrote a pretty long post on the McKinsey report back when it came out if you want to explore some of their key findings. Extended learning time is something that CAP has done alot of work on over the years. The basic idea is that we need to recognize that some children, particularly those from low-SES backgrounds and English language learners, simply present unusually difficult challenges and we ought to invest in the resources necessary to give them additional time in which to learn.
Pay-for-performance is always controversial, and of course the specific details of the proposal matter. But there’s tons of evidence that the gap in terms of student achievement outcomes between what the most effective and least effective teachers accomplish is enormous. Under the circumstances, anything we can do to help retain the most effective teachers, help encourage the most effective teachers to work where they can do the most good, and inspire the less effective teachers to either improve or move out of the profession can do a lot of good. CAP did two recent reports on teacher quality, one about tryingto find ways to assess teacher performance accurately and one about reformingtenure.
As we had opportunity to note the other day, health care and education are the growing parts of our economy. Under the circumstances, it’s vitally important to find ways to improve the performance of our health care and education institutions. On health care, there’s obviously a high-profile debate happening in congress right now. On education, the issue hasn’t been joined as squarely yet, but presumably it will be soon and the outcome will be critical. You can read the full letter here.
This morning, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) “was the only Democrat to oppose a renewable-energy requirement” that even some Republicans supported. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee “voted down an amendment offered by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions that would have removed the renewable electricity standard from the energy package the panel is currently debating” by a vote of 9 to 13. Even though the Energy Information Administration has found that a much stronger standard would only affect electricity prices in Indiana by 6 percent in 2026, Bayh argued Indiana would be hit hard:
Bayh said Indiana would be among the states that would bear a disproportionate share of the cost of meeting the requirement. He said a fairer system would be offering tax credits for producing power from renewable sources.
The standard of 15 percent renewable energy or efficiency gains by 2021 is significantly weaker than President Obama’s preferred standard of 25 percent by 2025. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) joined 11 Democrats in support of the standard, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) did not vote.
Evan Bayh’s not always the left’s favorite senator and stuff like this about how a climate and energy bill that’s been watered-down enough to make Rich Boucher (D-VA) happy may be too strong for Bayh is part of the reason:
Another senior aide said Waxman’s “pragmatic approach … will be appreciated in the Senate” but cautioned that the deal is unlikely to fully satisfy Senate moderates who are looking to temper the bill even more.
“Rick Boucher does not equal Evan Bayh does not equal Debbie Stabenow,” the senior Senate Democratic aide said of the Democratic Senators from Indiana and Michigan, respectively. Bayh and Stabenow have expressed reservations about cap-and-trade provisions, which would cap emissions and allow industries to trade for pollution permits.
Now that’s not Bayh speaking. And maybe the aide being quoted here doesn’t really speak for Bayh. I hope so. Representative Boucher isn’t anyone’s idea of a great progressive environmental hero. And it’s easy to understand why. He represents a coal-heavy Appalachian district that went 59 percent for John McCain. If the current version of the Waxman-Markey bill is a limb boucher can stand on, it’s a limb a Senator from a state Barack Obama carried can stand on. And of course if soi-disant “centrist” senators abandon what’s already a very centrist very moderate bill, then that cuts the limb out from under House Democrats like Boucher who’ve taken a stand in favor of doing something helpful to address the climate crisis.
One thing you often hear is that members of congress don’t like it when you question their “good faith” or “motives.” So it’s good to see Evan Bayh clarify that his approach to health care is dominated by cowering in fear for political reasons rather than any policy considerations:
Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said many Democrats felt “unease that we did not have a strategy” to answer the criticism coming from Republican members of Congress and Republican consultants like Frank I. Luntz, an expert on the language of politics.
One question to ask is why Bayh feels it’s helpful to share this sentiment with The New York Times. Suppose, instead, that he had this thought and kept it to himself. Would any of Indiana’s citizens have been worse off? Any of America’s? Any of the six billion people on the planet? Who, exactly, is helped by Senators engaging in public hand-wringing about health care politics?
Meanwhile, another thought here is that in the United States of America we hold regular elections in which the popularity of different ideas is put to the test. Barack Obama ran for election on a platform of ambitious health care reform. His opponents mounted arguments against him. And he mounted counterarguments. He won the election. He won the election in Indiana. And his copartisans picked up seats in New Hampshire and Virginia and Colorado and North Carolina and all across the country. Yuval Levin at the Corner recently posted some data from conservative-friendly pollster Scott Rasmussen purporting to show that the GOP’s political problems aren’t severe as some people say. This polling data—the data that says Republicans are in good shape—shows that 53 percent of Americans prefer the Democrats’ approach to health care whereas just 35 percent prefer the GOP approach. That’s a gap of eighteen points, a much larger gap than Obama enjoyed overall against McCain.
Back in November, of Indianians who told exit pollsters they were most interested in health care 68 percent voted for Obama. I don’t see any reason to be terrified of Frank Luntz.
On Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) trashed the idea of including a new public health insurance plan as part of health care reform, saying “that is exactly the opposite way” to improve health care in America. “We don’t need more money,” said Coburn. “What we need is true markets that will allocate this resource and create a way for everyone to have access.”
Host Chris Wallace then asked Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) about “private sector” concerns that a public option would mean “that everybody will end up in the government program.” Bayh replied that he was “agnostic” about including a public plan in reform:
WALLACE: But the one big concern a lot of the private sector has is the president, in his program, has as a — supposedly as a provider of last resort a government program, and the concern is they’ll be able to do it so much more cheaply, or at least in terms of the cost, that everybody will end up in the government program.
BAYH: Well, it’s a debate we need to have, Chris. And I’m agnostic on that as we sit here this morning.
Coburn argues that the main problem with health care in America today is that “we haven’t allowed market forces to allocate resources.” But as former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT) told ThinkProgress recently, “the free market does not work in health care, except in very perverse ways. So, you have to find a system that works better in addition to the free market.” This is why Dean argues that health reform “rises and falls on whether the public is allowed to choose” a public option.
Indeed, as Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow Peter Harbage and Director of Health Policy Karen Davenport recently wrote, “there’s no question a public plan within a public exchange is necessary“:
Fortunately, our nation’s health insurance market can be fixed with a big dose of what fixes most sectors of our economy—healthy, well-supervised competition. One of the best ways to introduce this much-needed competition is for the federal government to offer a public health insurance plan that can compete with private insurers within an insurance “exchange” that ensures public and private health insurance plans compete equally and transparently in the public marketplace.
By saying that he is “agnostic” about a public plan, Bayh appears to be aligning himself with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), who told The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky last month that he believes health care reform can be accomplished “without” a public plan. “But we may have to have it, [Dean] may be right. Just don’t know yet,” conceded Baucus.
Transcript: Read more
Bayh And Nelson Vote Against Obama Budget Because It ‘Costs Too Much,’ But Support Costly Estate Tax Bill
Last night, the Senate passed President Obama’s budget in a 55-43 vote. While not a single Republican broke with their party to vote yes on the measure, two “moderate” Democrats — Sens. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) — voted no. Nelson defended his vote in a prepared statement:
The administration inherited a lot of red ink in this budget, along with our ailing economy. But this budget still has trillion dollar-plus deficits in the next two years, and adds unsustainably to the debt. These are tough times, and the federal government needs to take a lesson from American families and cut down on the things we can do without.
I respect the Administration offering an honest budget…but it just costs too much.
Similarly, Bayh issued a statement saying he opposed the budget in an attempt to be the voice of “fiscal responsibility“:
[U]nder this budget, our national debt skyrockets from $11.1 trillion today to an estimated $17 trillion in 2014. As a percentage of our gross domestic product, it reaches a precarious 66.5 percent. The deficit remains larger than our projected economic growth, an unsustainable state of affairs. This budget will increase our borrowing from and dependence upon foreign nations. I cannot support such results. We can do better, and for the sake of our nation and our children’s future, we must.
But if Bayh and Nelson are really concerned about the cost of the budget, why then did they also vote yesterday in favor of a $250 billion tax cut for the rich? As the AP explains, Bayh and Nelson along with eight other “moderate” Democrats broke with Obama and voted to reduce estate taxes from which 99.7 percent of Americans were already exempt.
Further, as the Washington Post wrote yesterday, “Reducing the estate tax [will] harm charities because it eliminates some of the incentive for making charitable bequests — yet some of the very senators who back estate tax cuts were quick to denounce Obama administration tax proposals that they argued would hurt charitable giving.” Among those who opposed Obama’s proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable giving: Bayh and Nelson.
For Bayh’s part, it’s unclear why he’s standing in the way of the agenda his constituents voted in support of last November. Yglesias suggests, “Bayh just made a decision of conscience and principle to stand with Mitch McConnell and Jim DeMint on the most important domestic policy vote of his career.”
Ezra Klein notes that Bayh, while garnering an exceedingly liberal voting record during the 109th Congress as he prepared to run for president, became the Democratic caucus’s most conservative member in the 110th Congress. Klein explains further that when put in the context of his record since 2001, Bayh’s recent turn to the right represents “a sharp break in his voting patterns.”
In recent weeks, a number of progressive groups and commentators have criticized Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) for his attempts to organize his fellow Conservative Democrats into a new Blue Dog-style caucus that will work to “restrain the influence of party liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill.” Now, however, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is telling the Bayh critics to back off. This morning at a breakfast briefing with reporters, Reid called the critiques “very unwise and not helpful“:
“I think it’s very unwise and not helpful,” Reid said Friday morning. “These groups should leave them alone. It’s not helpful to me. It’s not helpful to the Democratic Caucus.”
Reid, who said he hadn’t seen or heard the ads, added that “most of [the groups] run very few ads — they only to do it to get a little press on it.”
Later, Reid said he had “no qualms” with Bayh’s new Blue Dog-style coalition and told reporters that “‘any public statements’ Senate moderates have made have been helpful.” But as Rachel Maddow noted earlier this week, at the moment, the only result of Bayh forming his group has been to give Republicans “way more power” than they otherwise would have.
Reid’s comments appear to grow out of a fear that progressive criticisms of Bayh and his fellow Conservative Democrats might upset them so much that they would vote against Obama’s agenda out of anger. But some of Bayh’s allies are already indicating that they may be opposed.
On Hardball yesterday, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) worried that a cap and trade system to prevent catastrophic global warming and drive green economic development might “suck money” and jobs away from coal-intensive states:
Cap and trade, you’ll probably need 60 votes because it affects so many states economically that if you don’t do it in the right kind of way, you’re taking money from carbon intensive states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and redistributing it to California, New York. That’s just a very hard sell to our people at a time when they’re hurting. And you also run the risk of taking jobs away and not solving global warming.
Sen. Bayh appears to be listening too much to global warming deniers like Rep. Joe Barton, who argued last week that “if you’re trying to cap carbon, which is one of the most ubiquitous elements in the world, it’s going to put a price on it and the price is going to go up while the jobs are going to go down.” Barton warned that “the cost of energy already has a bearing on whether we manufacture or create in the United States or in China or Mexico or Brazil.”
On March 9, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal claimed that cap and trade “takes from Miami, Ohio, and gives to Miami, Florida“:
But the greatest inequities are geographic and would be imposed on the parts of the U.S. that rely most on manufacturing or fossil fuels — particularly coal, which generates most power in the Midwest, Southern and Plains states. It’s no coincidence that the liberals most invested in cap and trade — Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey — come from California or the Northeast.
It’s certainly Sen. Bayh’s prerogative to think that the most important questions to ask about cap and trade legislation are those promoted by fossil-fueled right-wing global warming deniers, even though their policies have led to the decimation of manufacturing jobs in “Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.” Bayh’s agenda should instead include asking questions like these:
– If we don’t act, will it be China, India, or Germany that will develop next-generation technologies and the economic prosperity that comes with them?
– How fast and strong must cap and trade legislation be to minimize the damages of global warming-fueled floods, heatwaves, disease, droughts, and hurricanes?
– How can we design legislation to prevent job losses from wildly veering coal and oil prices?
– How can we ensure that climate legislation builds new industries in renewable energy and energy efficiency for manufacturing-heavy states like mine?
– What must we do to mitigate the looming national security crises of unprecedented droughts, sea level rise, floods, and typhoons in developing countries even as fossil fuels grow scarcer and more expensive?
– How many jobs will be lost if our planet is no longer habitable in a few generations?
Transcript: Read more
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.