Mutiny ringleader Bayh: maybe Obama should have offered him the VP spot
Moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate are starting to choke over the massive spending and tax increases in President Barack Obama’s budget plans and have begun plotting to increase their influence over the agenda of a president who is turning out to be much more liberal than they are.
A group of 14 Senate Democrats and one independent huddled behind closed doors on Tuesday, discussing how centrists in that chamber can assert more leverage on the major policy debates that will dominate this Congress.
Afterward, some in attendance made plain that they are getting jitters over the cost and expansive reach of Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal.
Looks like a plot to me. At the center of it is Indiana Senator Evan Bayh who was widely reported to have been among the final three on then-candidate Obama's list of possible veep choices, along with Joe Biden and Tim Kaine. Obama might have done himself a favor by taking Bayh to the White House with him.
It was Bayh who organized the Tuesday meeting of the moderates. It was Bayh who fired a warning shot in an op-ed yesterday outlining the case against Obama's $410-billion omnibus spending bill. And it was Bayh who joined with the reform-minded liberal Democrat from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, to announce that they would vote against the omnibus bill because of its "bloated" spending and particularly its $7.7 billion in member "earmarks."
Among the 15 plotters are Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Warner of Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Although he didn't attend the Tuesday session, Jon Tester of Montana seems inclined to throw in with the mutiny. And I'd be surprised if North Dakota's Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad were not sympathetic.
You know, if you put these 15 or so Democrats together with the eight or 10 Republicans most likely to seek compromise, you'd have a centrist group that would be able to work together to forge economic and budget policies that make the most sense for the American people. Now that would be real change.
What's your reaction to the incipient mutiny? Post a comment.