Centrist You Say?

by Brien Jackson

Via Steve Benen, I see that the “moderates” in the Senate are taking a, um, hard line in regards to their brokered Senate deal:

Once the Senate holds an official up-or-down vote on the stimulus Tuesday, the bill will go to conference, where differences between the versions passed by the two chambers of Congress will be ironed out. That could mean funding that was cut as part of the Senate deal will end up in the final legislation.

Already, both Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the architect of the compromise, and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), one of three Republicans whose support was crucial on Monday, have come out to say they won’t accept a bill that’s much different from the one they voted for.

So let’s unpack this a little bit. The legislative process is not over; bills have passed both houses, but they have to be reconciled in conference. That is to say that there’s more negotiating to be done. But the self styled “moderates” in the Senate have decided that they’re done negotiating, even though the legislative process isn’t over, and that they will accept nothing but “their” bill. Am I the only one seeing the disconnect between this rhetoric and their centrist preening? Isn’t that as stubborn as anything “partisan?” Doesn’t it sort of bely the idea that the Nelson-Collins axis is some sort of nonpartisan pragmatist wing? And considering that the House version of the bill is both more stimulative and cheaper, what exactly are the “moderates” moderating by insisting on their larger, more wasteful, bill?

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