Posts Tagged ‘Centrists’

Centrist You Say?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

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?

Conference

Monday, February 9th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

On centrists, Jon Chait writes:

They took a $900 billion stimulus and decided to knock off a nice round hundred billion dollars because that shows they’re centrist. If the House had passed a $1 trillion bill, they would have decided $900 billion was the perfect figure. This is essentially the same way they operated with the Bush tax cuts.

Of course, when Senate centrists did knock down the cost of the Bush tax cuts a bit, and thus declared that centrism has prevailed, Republicans just turned around in conference committee and made the spending cuts meaningless. For technical reasons, I don’t think Democrats can do the same thing this time. But I do think they can reverse the state budget aid cuts, which is the most damaging cut the centrists imposed, and swap it for something else. In fact I think a conference committee could undo a lot of the damage, and probably bring the price tag up a bit.

The thing to pay attention to now is the Congressional wrangling over the conference process. The Senate wants the House to pass their bill in full, and the House wants to go to Congress, where Pelosi will likely stuff the negotiating team and demand more, well, stimulus. I suspect that some of the more egregious cuts; aid to states, school construction, and food stamps, will get back into the final version and some of the more odious ta credits will be removed. The centrists may not like that, but I just don’t see what they’re going to do about it. See, for example, this:

In other words, there’s really no constituency for opposing the stimulus bill. The American public, by and large, want the government to pass something, the business community, certainly not looking forward to a prolonged recession, wants the bill to pass, and wingnuts listening to the radio, and journalists yapping on teevee, are a rather small group of people to pander to. So I just don’t see the Collins-Nelson-Specter axis actually opposing the bill at the end of the day, certainly not if it means the bill actually fails, and they have to take the fall for defeating it.