More Empty Excuses from Evan Bayh and the Blue Dogs

Is their's a recipe for success? No.

I've been critical of efforts from Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and other "centrist" Democrats to organize a new working group to water down President Obama's domestic agenda. I tried to keep an open mind, though, while reading an op-ed from the group's leadership -- Sens. Bayh, Tom Carper, and Blanche Lincoln -- in the Washington Post today.

The three said they "feel compelled to set the record straight," because their goals, they say, have been misconstrued.

As moderate leaders, it is not our intent to water down the president's agenda. We intend to strengthen and sustain it. Moderation is not a mathematical process of finding the center for its own sake. Practical solutions are practical because they offer our best chance to make a difference in people's lives today without forcing our children to pick up the tab tomorrow.

The stakes are too high for Democrats to fear a policy debate. Such debates produce better legislation. On nearly all important votes, a supermajority of 60 senators will be needed to pass legislation. Without Democratic moderates working to find common ground with reasonable Republicans, the president's agenda could well be filibustered into oblivion.

So, Bayh & Co. will water down make legislation less progressive so Republicans will be less inclined to oppose key bills. Is this a recipe for success? We saw this play out during the stimulus debate, and the result was a weaker and insufficient bill. (Indeed, the same Democrats want to make it easier for Republicans to filibuster health care and energy bills. I wonder why that is?)

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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