Next week when Obama addresses the House of Representatives and the Senate in a joint session, 40 lawmakers from the two parties hope to add some beef: Under their official congressional lapel pins, they’ll wear orange buttons identifying themselves as Problem Solvers and displaying their pledge, “Committed to fix not fight.”
With congressional approval ratings at historic lows, the 23 Democrats and 17 Republicans say they want to move beyond mere symbolism as they tell their peers that they’ve pledged to try to end hyper-partisanship and work across the aisle to solve the country’s most pressing problems.
“We’re meeting on a regular basis, Democrats and Republicans just talking about areas where we think we can work together in a bipartisan way,” said Rep. Ami Bera, a California Democrat who defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Lungren in November.
“The idea is we’ve got to move past being only Democrat or Republican,” Bera said in an interview. “It’s very evident in my freshman class. All of us got elected knowing there was an expectation that we would work together.”
Aww. Aren't these guys precious? And let's remember, the top priority of these totally bipartisan sentinels of awesome bipartisanship that is bipartisan is the House GOP Super Austerity Budget so we can get rid of that awful debt crisis that doesn't actually exist. And yet they're against sequestration, too...because that would cut defense spending, a big no-no. See, the kind of deficit reduction these guys are looking for has to be made up of all of us taking it in the shorts so the 1% can get more money, and then gift us with life like the overclass they were always meant to be.
In short, the primary constituency of No Labels is totally Villagers like Joe Klein.
For those of us who consider ourselves political moderates, life is a dispiriting slog, a sorry mix of rectitude and ineptitude. We simmer with anticipation each time a new bipartisan initiative or Gang (of Six, of ... anything) is offered--and we are inevitably disappointed. The results are either too pedestrian, in a Solomonic slice-the-baby way, or far too ambitious. Abolish the Electoral College! Grant public funding for election campaigns! Start a third party! In 2012 there was a megafoolish, if well-funded, effort by a group called Americans Elect to raise an independent Cincinnatus to run for President via an Internet draft. It flopped, spectacularly. Oh, there are worthy think tanks with names like the Bipartisan Policy Center and Third Way. And there is the memory of a centrist research group, the Progressive Policy Institute, that provided Bill Clinton with many of his best proposals in 1992. But we moderates generally suffer from too much righteousness, too little populist grit and too many compound sentences.
I am, however, slightly optimistic again. On Jan. 10 I witnessed a public act of humility by 24 members of Congress, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. The event was sponsored by a centrist group called No Labels. It was revolutionary not only in its humility but also in its agenda. There was no agenda. They simply agreed to start talking to one another.
Oh there's an agenda there. It completely involves bipartisan agreement to streamline and fix broken Washington and the political process, which I agree with. They want to really, actually, totally reform the filibuster, which I agree with. They want the parties to come together to form a large majority to pass major legislation, together, which I agree with. They want to form a huge voting bloc of power enough to break the deadlock of Washington politics, which I agree with.
And then they want to take those badly needed structural repairs to our political machine in order to immediately ram through a massive austerity package and cause economic suffering of an overwhelming majority of American citizens for the benefit of enriching people with eight or more digits in their personal net worth numbers, which I kinda have a major friggin' problem with.
So yes, you No Labels guys can take your Right Ideas Used For Impressive Amounts Of Evil and go have a seat during the State Of The Union addy. Thanks.