Ed Kilgore offers the provocative suggestion that perhaps the “practical caucus” would be better off without its fearless leader:
Best as I can tell, Bayh’s vote was motivated by a sincere horror of deficits and debt, which is so strong that he doesn’t mind abandoning his party and indeed, his fellow “centrists” on what was, after all, the most epochal budget vote since at least 1993 and probably since 1981. For that very reason, he ought to step back from his leadership role in the Senate “centrist” group, in favor of senators whose agreement with and loyalty to the Obama agenda is much less in question. If this group remains the “Bayh group,” it will struggle to achieve the credibility it needs to become anything other than a crude power bloc looking to shake down the administration and the congressional leadership for personal, ideological, and special-interest favors.
Still not sure about this explanation of Bayh’s “no” vote. After all, someone horrified by the prospect of increased deficits wouldn’t be pushing for estate tax cuts. More broadly, someone specifically horrified by deficits would be concerned not only about reducing spending but about increasing revenues. I, for one, am inclined to agree that the long-term deficits envisioned in the Obama administration’s budget plan are too high. I would advocate lower spending on the defense side than Obama’s envisioning, and more revenue through any of a number of possible mechanisms. Bayh, by contrast, seems to have a rather one-sided aversion to spending on domestic programs.
That’s not a unique sentiment in the United States congress, but it’s a curious belief set for a Democrat.