December 23, 2006


New challenges in majority for Congress’ progressives (Associated Press, December 23, 2006)

[Progressives] risk getting pinched between liberals itching for impeachment hearings and a quick end to the Iraq war, and more centrist Democrats looking to make common cause with Republicans on fiscal issues.

And that’s assuming progressives can settle on their own goals from a long list of priorities, including universal health care, action on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, voting reform and fixing the trade imbalance.

“Most of us had one drink on election night and then got really sober,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. “We’re sort of in the dog-who-caught-the-bus situation. Now that we have it, what do we do with it?”

The Progressive Caucus, founded in 1991 over frustration with the policies of the first Bush administration, claimed 63 members this year and says it is the largest active Democratic caucus in the House. The moderate New Democrats and Blue Dog Democrats have more than 40 members each, with significant overlap.

The 41 new Democratic House members elected in November include a number of moderates in Republican-leaning districts. The Blue Dogs already claim nine new recruits while the Progressive Caucus only names two to date (though it says more are expected), signaling potential difficulties ahead for progressives facing off against newly empowered moderates.

“The vast majority, maybe two-thirds of the Democratic Caucus, or over two-thirds, are not members of the Progressive Caucus, and that says volumes,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., a Blue Dog member.

But expectations from left-wing constituencies are high after 12 years that saw scant discussion of liberal priorities like health care reform, education investment, affordable housing and trade protections. Troop withdrawal from Iraq is perhaps the top issue, though progressives don’t have a unified position on how fast it should happen.

The conservative-wannabes win the elections but the Labour-wannabes think their agenda should govern? These guys are more fun than a bag of cats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2006 9:15 AM

"what do we do with it?”

For McDermott, it's finally clearing up his legal troubles. No more is there a need to stall and evade.

And you left out the fact that all the important committes run bytthe Dinosaurs of '93, a group that got them into the minority in the first place, and then spent the following 12 years acting like poorly toilet-trained three year olds. What happens when their "Blue Dog" lessors fail to "know their place" will be priceless, too.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 23, 2006 11:19 AM